THE upper floor of the Athenium Theatre will finally get the upgrade it deserves after an injection of funds from the federal government.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack visited the theatre to inform the Friends of Athenium they had received the grant.
The $10,380 will comes from the Stronger Communities program.
The upgrade will see 140 seats installed to modern standards, while another 140 will remain untouched as a heritage display.
Mr McCormack described the theatre as the “heart and soul of Junee’s community” which had played and would continue to play a pivotal role.
“It’s a magnificent theatre which was saved from the wrecker’s ball at the turn of the century,” he said.
“(The grant) will help in part, to restore it to its former glory.”
Mr McCormack said the Friends of the Athenium had “big plans” to upgrade what is called the dress circle.
“I take my hat off to the committee, they’ve worked for more than a dozen years.”
Mr McCormack said there was more work which could be done – including the installation of air-conditioning.
“But this will help them and go a long way,” he said.
Junee Shire Council and the Friends of the Athenium are also contributing funds to the project which is budgeted at nearly $20,000.
Mayor Neil Smith he was keen to see the upstairs section of the theatre be used once again.
“It’s quite a unique experience for anyone in the region,” Councillor Smith said.
“It’s not just a win for Junee and district, but for the region.
“(Seats upstairs) offer a commanding position and sweeping views of the building and stage.
“It’s something that you can’t get in Wagga. It’s unique for anything outside a metropolitan theatre.
“I throw down the velvet glove and challenge anyone in 250 kilometres to match the viewing experience once it’s complete.”
Cr Smith said the theatre was close to his heart and the cultural heart of Junee.
“It’s a place of community, where everyone can get together,” he said.
“The last community gathering there was to save our shire from the state government’s amalgamation plans.”
The Friends of the Athenium have lodged plans with Junee Shire Council and are awaiting approval of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage before the project can begin.
Once the approval has been received it’s expected the work could be completed within three months.