The Palais Theatre community reservations

Community Reservations at the Palais Theatre is a City of Port Phillip initiative to increase access to hire of the Palais Theatre, to groups that may not otherwise be able to utilise the venue due to hire costs.

Community Reservations at the Palais Theatre is a City of Port Phillip initiative to increase access to hire of the Palais Theatre, to groups that may not otherwise be able to utilise the venue due to hire costs. Successful applicants for a community booking will have venue hire costs reduced to $1, enabling a range of users to experience this extraordinary venue.

The Palais Theatre is an iconic venue with a rich history as a key part of the cultural heritage of St Kilda, Melbourne and beyond. The venue has hosted some of Melbourne’s most renowned events, and continuously attracts national and international artists and promoters for performances ranging from all genres of music, through to opera and dance, comedy, gala events and more.

Photo: Palais Theatre by Ian Laidla

The Palais Theatre Community Purpose Reservations supports the City of Port Phillip’s Council Plan 2021-2031, specifically strategic direction Vibrant: a city that has a flourishing economy, where our community and local business thrive, and we maintain and enhance our reputation as one of Melbourne’s cultural and creative hubs.

The Palais Theatre is a highly sought after venue for artists, community groups and event producers, however venue size and associated expenses can make it inaccessible for noncommercial operators. The City of Port Phillip and Live Nation have partnered to make the Palais Theatre more accessible to the community and are seeking Expressions of Interest from event organisers, cultural and community groups who meet the criteria.

Up to eight Community Purpose Reservations can be granted per year for dates in 2022.

When to apply by

Expressions of interest are now open for events in 2022.

The important dates are:

Applications Open: 9 am (AEDST) Monday 14 February 2022

Applications Close: 12 midnight (AEDST) Sunday 13 March 2022

How to apply

Before applying, please ensure you read the guidelines and criteria on this page.

Applications can be submitted using a SmartyGrants online application. The application opens 9 am Monday 14 February.

If you need help, please contact contact Bowen Walker:

Email: palaistheatrecommuni@portphillip.vic.gov.au
Phone: 03 9209 6520

What is the Community Reservation Program

The Community reservations policy at the Palais Theatre is an initiative from the City of Port Phillip and Live Nation, enabling increased community usage of this much loved, iconic theatre in order to:

  • increase access to the Palais Theatre for community groups, artists and event organisers who may not otherwise be able to hire the venue for financial reasons
  • increase access to the Palais Theatre for the wider community as audience members, through ensuring a diverse range of events is programmed that caters to broad audiences
  • maintain and grow the sense of community ownership of, and engagement with, the Palais Theatre
  • provide opportunities to local organisations, performers and producers within the City of Port Phillip, and attract or retain events locally to ensure a balanced events calendar year round
  • encourage programming of low ticket-cost events increasing audience access to Palais Theatre.

Eligible organisations can apply to be allocated a community reservation, and if successful your event is held at the venue for just $1 in venue hire. Palais Theatre operating costs will still apply.

Who's eligible

If you can meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria, you're welcome to apply:

  • The event would not otherwise be able to be held at Palais Theatre
  • The event is produced by an organisation based within the City of Port Phillip
  • The event can show a history or strong connection with the City of Port Phillip, it's residents or businesses
  • The event will be able to provide low cost tickets for the audience
  • The event would contribute to key initiatives within the City of Port Phillip Art and Soul, Prosperous and Creative City Strategy 2018-22
  • The event will enable access to the City of Port Phillip community as a priority

Selection criteria

Applicants will need to respond to all relevant selection criteria:

  • The event can demonstrate community development, arts or social benefit
  • The event can demonstrate ability or opportunity to engage, including and connect the local City of Port Phillip Community
  • The event's target market is demonstrably diverse and caters to audiences who would not necessarily traditionally attend events at the Palais Theatre
  • Proceeds from the event are committed to be sent to a charity or community group via fundraising at or ticket sale proceeds from the event (please nominate the charity or community group)
  • If the hirer is a commercial operator, the hire should aim to increase the likelihood of future large-scale bookings between the operator and the tenant

Photo: Grace Jones 2018 by Duncan Jacobs

What do you mean, operating costs?

Operating costs means everything you would still need to pay for to hold your event at the theatre, just not the venue hire. For example, staffing, AV and technical equipment, cleaning, security etc. Everyone that takes on a community reservation needs to ensure they can meet these costs. Find details on the operating costs (PDF 439 KB).

How big is the Palais Theatre?

This grand old dame can seat up to 2,894 people. It is the largest seated theatre in Australia. The usual venue hire cost for this full theatre mode is around $13,000. This is the potential saving under the Community Reservation program.

What if my event won't need this seating capacity?

Carefully consider whether Palais Theatre is the venue for your event. It best suits events for 1,200 to 2,800 (or up to 300 in the art deco foyer or on the stage). The auditorium capacity can be reduced if needed, or you might want to consider using the foyer or stage instead. Both are unique spaces in itself.

What if I need more time?

There are up to eight community reservations that can be allocated each year. If all eight are filled during the EOI, that will be it for another year but if there are any spots left over you can still apply during the year by arrangement. Events giving 12 weeks’ notice or more, will be prioritised.

When can I use the theatre?

Palais theatre will liaise directly with you and advise on available dates. For this round, events must be held before 31 December 2022. If you prefer an event date, please state this in your application. Please note that Thursday through to Saturday nights are generally not available. If your application is approved, a representative from the Palais Theatre will contact you to finalise your date choice and discuss your event needs and estimated costs.

Photo: Palais Theatre Grace Jones 2018, by Duncan Jacobs

Tips for online submission

  • It is recommended that applicants begin with an initial draft as an MS Word document and save to their desktop. It is possible to cut and paste text from a draft word document to the relevant field in the electronic document.
  • Save a copy of your completed online form prior to final submission
  • A confirmation of submission email should be received within one working day of submission with a final PDF copy of your application attached

Further information

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the Creative Industries Lead, Bowen Walker to discuss their Expression of Interest or the application process including difficulties submitting online:

Email: palaistheatrecommuni@portphillip.vic.gov.au
Phone: 03 9209 6520