Plans underway for the MEC's new theatre studio space

Published on 21 August 2019


The development of a new studio space at the Manning Entertainment Centre continues to move ahead with the appointment of the project architect and commencement of consultation with major stakeholders.

In 2018 MidCoast Council successfully applied for funding to design and build the new studio space through the NSW Government’s Regional Cultural Fund.  The selection process for the designer resulted in Austin McFarland Architects being appointed. 

With key stakeholder consultation already underway, the architects will be delivering the design for the new theatre later this year, with construction due to commence in 2020.

Director, Russell McFarland said, “We understand the importance of delivering a space that can cater for smaller and more intimate performances and we’re excited to be part of this project at the MEC.”

Austin McFarland Architects are working closely with specialist Theatre Design Architects, Scott Carver throughout this project, who have worked on various arts and cultural buildings including the Sydney Opera House, the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta and the Victoria Theatre in Newcastle.

“At the MEC we want to ensure audiences experience a diversity of performances and the new theatre studio space will allow for intimate shows, be it theatre, drama, film or music, as well as a range of other uses,” explained Director of Liveable Communities, Paul De Szell.

The MEC currently hosts between 75 -100 performances and productions each year to an annual audience of approximately 30,000. It was built in 1988 after a large, dedicated team of individuals and Council raised funds to get the Centre built for the community, to address growing performance and cultural needs.

“The MEC is an important asset for local performers, with regular use by groups such as the Taree Arts Council, Taree and District Eisteddfodd and Manning Valley Choral Society, Sinfonia Mid North Coast, Manning Valley Concert Band and local schools and dance schools,” added Paul.

For more information about the NSW Government’s Regional Cultural Fund, visit

To find out what shows are coming to the Manning Entertainment Centre head to