#A new beginning
The Thomas Dixon Centre has undergone a transformational redevelopment.
The Thomas Dixon Centre has undergone a transformational redevelopment.
Home to Queensland Ballet since 1991, the revitalised Thomas Dixon Centre is a landmark performing arts destination and Brisbane's newest cultural hub.
Since the appointment of Li Cunxin AO as Artistic Director in 2013, Queensland Ballet has experienced explosive growth on many fronts. With an expanding dancer ensemble and artistic repertoire, the growth of Queensland Ballet Academy, and developing our community engagement and education offerings, we needed to ensure our home in West End was equipped to embrace our ambitious aspirations, today and tomorrow.
The revitalisation of the Thomas Dixon Centre in Brisbane’s West End is an extraordinary story of passion, tenacity, and altruism. We chose to refurbish our heritage home, not only to house our dancers, artists, and arts workers for years to come, but to create a vibrant space for our neighbours, sector, and wider community. The redevelopment has been 10 years in the making – it has involved a complex restoration of the heritage-listed building, adaptive re-use of its spaces, and the addition of contemporary new facilities.
From long, COVID-related delays and a significant flood event, to joyous discoveries of the building’s history carved into the bricks of the original air raid shelter (now Bunker Barre), there have been many adventures leading us to where we are.
We are thrilled to be have returned to the Thomas Dixon Centre, and to welcome you home.
Main Image by Chris Wardell.
#A home for our artists, arts workers and the community
We place people at the centre of our endeavours, providing meaningful jobs for artists, arts workers and associates, and connecting arts and artists with the community. Each person at Queensland Ballet helps achieve our vision: to create magic and enrich lives. Enriching the lives of our dancers, our production crew, our creatives, and our business staff, means ensuring they have sound and secure working conditions, and physical spaces that are inspired and inspiring.
The Thomas Dixon Centre will house a team of 60 artists and more than 100 arts workers, and be the home for Queensland Ballet Academy’s Pre-Professional Programs dancers. The redevelopment of the Thomas Dixon Centre marks the completion of the second of our three physical homes. We have our Academy in Kelvin Grove for aspiring young dancers, the Thomas Dixon Centre in West End for our artists, artworkers and the wider community, and in the future, we will have The Roy and Nola Thompson Production Centre in Yatala for our art makers.
The Thomas Dixon Centre belongs to everyone. Outside of dedicated Queensland Ballet spaces, the Thomas Dixon Centre will include public, hospitality and event spaces for use by the creative sector and community.
The Thomas Dixon Centre will also be residence to Ausdance Queensland, the dance industry’s peak body, and as a venue for all, be a headquarters for dance in Queensland.
Image by Chris Wardell.
Queensland Ballet Academy
The Roy and Nola Thompson Production Centre
#From Boots to Ballet
The Thomas Dixon Centre first opened its doors in 1908 as a shoe factory. Thomas Coar Dixon, an entrepreneur and visionary, determined that his boot factory on Montague Road in West End would stand the test of time. He commissioned leading Queensland architect of the day Richard Gailey to design it, and the contractor, a Mr. Burton, to build it. When the building opened in April 1908, Dixon proudly declared:
“This building will be here when I and my sons have long passed, as a monument of pluck and indomitable perseverance.”
- Thomas Dixon
Historical imagery courtesy of State Library Queensland
Artistic Director, Queensland Ballet
“The redevelopment of this historic building is a truly transformational moment for the arts in Brisbane. More than an incredible home for Queensland Ballet, the Thomas Dixon Centre is a centre for culture and community that will positively impact the Brisbane artistic landscape for years to come. The new Thomas Dixon Centre represents an unwavering belief in the artform, our Company and our community.”
Executive Director, Queensland Ballet
“As a heritage building on an inner-city site, it wasn’t the easiest option to rejuvenate and restore the Thomas Dixon Centre, but we wanted to stay in West End as we feel a sense of belonging and neighbourhood pride. We love the Thomas Dixon Centre, her spirit, and we love being a part of West End. We had faith it would house us for years to come, and we had a sense of responsibility to restore it to its former glory.”
The Queensland Government bought the Thomas Dixon Centre building in 1975, and it became home to Queensland Ballet in 1991. The entire top floor was one long open space, made possible by the huge trusses which span the building and support the roof without the need for intervening pillars, making it the perfect venue for dance. The building was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 1998.
In 2018, Queensland Ballet, in partnership with the State Government, embarked on the renovation and refurbishment of the Thomas Dixon Centre retaining its original heritage values, and transforming it into a modern arts venue and cultural destination.
Image courtesy of https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/
#Stepping into the future
10 years in the making, The Thomas Dixon Centre's transformation represents an unwavering belief in the future of our art form, our community and Queensland Ballet. This vision has been made real by the generous love and support of individuals, corporate and government partners, and the local community.
Through the visionary support of Individual philanthropists, trusts and foundations, the State and Federal Government, the Thomas Dixon Centre is being transformed into a world-class performing arts destination and cultural precinct. The original heritage-listed building and exceptional new facilities include a state-of-the-art 351- seat proscenium arch theatre, six dance studios including a dedicated community studio, stunning public art, a café, bar, rooftop terrace, landscaped green spaces, multiple function spaces, a wardrobe workshop, wellness and treatment facilities and dedicated arts workers’ spaces.
From standing tall as a boot factory amongst a bustling industrial strip in the 1800s, to an air-raid shelter in World War II, those same bricks will now become a powerhouse of creativity, as the Thomas Dixon Centre reignites as a cultural destination. Not only to house Queensland Ballet for years to come, but to create a vibrant home for our neighbours, sector, and wider community.
#A glimpse inside
The new Thomas Dixon Centre has six studios, a 351 seat Talbot Theatre able to accommodate full-scale Company rehearsals and performances, dedicated dancer spaces and a café and bar open to the public.
With an innovative design combining the old and the new, the pursuit of platinum WELL™ accreditation for healthy buildings within one year of opening, and a sustainable business model which includes hospitably and workspaces for the arts sector and broader community, the Thomas Dixon Centre will provide unprecedented opportunities for the sector and community to connect.
The Thomas Dixon Centre is a state-owned building with heritage values, and the heritage component has been fully restored. The front area, formerly the office and reception, will be the public café space, due to open late 2022, and the Bunker Barre, an old air raid shelter that surprised us with new stories, like the discovery of a name carved into one of its bricks.
The six dance studios will be available for community use through a curated program of dance classes and wellness offerings. In line with our dream for the Thomas Dixon Centre to be a vibrant home for arts and artists, studio spaces and the Talbot Theatre are available to hire.
The Talbot Theatre
The Talbot Theatre is designed to enable full-scale Queensland Ballet rehearsals and performances. The theatre will also showcase Queensland Ballet Academy dancers, works for young audiences as part of our My First Ballet Series, masterclasses, and community activities, as well as artists-residence and external hirers.
The theatre has been generously supported by the Ken Talbot Foundation, named in Ken Talbot’s memory and embodying his passion for arts, education, and community. The Talbot family are heartened that Ken’s altruistic nature will be realised in this beautiful space as the Talbot Theatre lives its purpose as a performance home for Queensland Ballet and Academy, but also a vibrant space for sector and community.
Images by Chris Wardell.
The Ian Potter Promenade
The Ian Potter Promenade sits at the heart of our home and gives visitors their first experience of Thomas Dixon Centre.
With the buildings heritage façade exposed on one side, the Promenade is a soaring, light-filled welcoming space, that connects the many functions of Queensland Ballet. Providing glimpses into the Wardrobe Workroom and Wellness Suite, The Ian Potter Promenade connects the old and the new, and offers unexpected connections with art, artists, and community.
This space was generously supported by the Ian Potter Foundation.
We are committed to ensuring our dancers have access to world-class medical and wellbeing facilities as well as injury prevention, treatment, and recovery and mental care.
Our new Wellness Suite offers fundamental facilities for professional dancers, including physio treatment areas, a fully equipped gym, massage zone, medical consultancy rooms, Pilates space and rehabilitation studio.
The Wellness Suite has been generously supported by Kay Van Norton Poche AO.
The Thomas Dixon Centre is our dancers’ home away from home, providing place to create and connect with the arts.
As well as elegant dressing rooms and dressing stations, our dancers have access to private lounge and terrace spaces. The dancers’ spaces will be complete XYZ mid-late 2022.
We thank Barbara Bedwell for her generous support helping to realise the vision of The Dancers’ Terrace.
Wardrobe Workroom creates and refurbishes hundreds of costumes for Queensland Ballet and Academy performances each year.
Our new Wardrobe Workroom will incorporate a workshop, store, fitting rooms, and spaces for pointe shoes, wigs, art-finishing and laundry.
Did you know, a typical performance season for a Queensland Ballet production could see over 200 pairs of pointes and 200 pairs of flats used? This amounts to a cost upward of $8,000 on pointe shoes for each production.
Support our Pointe Shoe Appeal to ensure our dancers are receiving the best customised support for their feet.
Our Executive Gallery is a unique meeting and private viewing space.
In the spirit of the design ethos of sharing, visitors to the Executive Gallery will be able to watch rehearsals and performances happening on stage of the Talbot Theatre through a cleverly designed floor-to-ceiling glass wall.
The Kite Terrace
Celebrating Queensland’s wide blue skies and Brisbane’s city views, The Kite Terrace hovers above the Talbot Theatre.
The Kite Terrace pays tribute to our fifth Artistic Director, Li Cunxin AO. As a child, Li spent rare and precious time with his father, making and flying kites. They carried his hopes and dreams, carefully written in messages tied to their tails, up towards the clouds.
The realisation of the Kite Terrace was possible thanks to the generosity of Tim and Gina Fairfax.
A series of World War II bomb shelters in the basement of the Thomas Dixon Centre will be transformed to create the Bunker Barre, an intimate space for visitors and audiences to enjoy food and drinks.
The bunkers have been carefully preserved, and all the heritage brickwork has been restored and revitalised to ensure the character of this unique space is maintained and supported. The Bunker Barre will open in late 2023.
Generously supported by the Clark Family.
#The Project Team
Queensland Ballet and Queensland Government partnered with many talented organisations to help us achieve the vision for the Thomas Dixon Centre.
An internationally recognised design studio, Brisbane-based Conrad Gargett brings a breadth of knowledge in strategically designing spaces that are guided by social responsibility.
Builder / Early Works
With values embedded in relationships, taking care of each other and the community, and working towards a common goal, we partnered with Hutchinson Builders to deliver our vision.
#Designing for heritage values
Celebrating the history of The Thomas Dixon Centre was a key value in designing the redevelopment and expansion. The building is a rare example of Georgian revival-style architecture. By preserving the iconic red brick façade and the beauty of the original building’s materials and design, the contemporary new additions to the Thomas Dixon Centre merge seamlessly with the building’s restored history in a joyful interplay between old and new.
Conrad Gargett’s initial design was based on a small renovation of the brick building. This design inspired The Ian Potter Foundation, whose visionary donation founded a circle of generous supporters with a shared belief in the project and allowed the design for the Thomas Dixon Centre renovation to grow.
Sharing is at the heart of The Thomas Dixon Centre’s design ethos. Queensland Ballet, and architects Conrad Gargett, have worked together to ensure the design draws visitors behind the scenes, into the day-to-day stories and incredible energy and magic of Queensland Ballet.
Where possible, we have incorporated viewing windows into the costume and art finishing departments, our pointe shoe room, music rooms, studios and the brand-new Talbot Theatre. Heavily influenced by this egalitarianism and the philosophy of sharing, is the Executive Gallery – a large glass-walled viewing gallery suspended over the Talbot Theatre, providing a special behind the scenes experience for everyone who walks through.
Aerial view from Raven Street after scaffolding was taken off the building.
View of Thomas Dixon Centre from Drake Street.
Inside a refurbished dance studio before barres are installed.
View of the external brickwork of the Bunker Barre.
Talbot Theatre in progress.
View of the wardrobe room via the promenade. Image by Chris Wardle.
The Promenade ceiling meets the existing brick building. Image by David Kelly.
Talbot Theatre carpet design by artist, Judy Watson. Image by Johnny Harkin.
"Ensemble' by artist, Jamie North, at Thomas Dixon Centre's front doors. Image by Chris Wardle.
Lighting system above the Talbot Theatre stage. Image by Johnny Harkin.
Thomas Dixon Centre staircase from the Promenade. Image by Chris Wardle.
Putting health and wellness first
The Thomas Dixon Centre has been designed to achieve the highest outcomes in human health, wellbeing and comfort, and our redeveloped home will be the first performing arts building in the world to achieve a WELL™ Building Standard certification. We believe in the transformational impact our building has on our people and visitors. The Centre has been designed to improve the comfort of residents and visitors, drive better choices, and enhance health and wellness.
Grounded in evidence-based wellness research, WELL™ is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that prioritise the health and wellbeing of occupants.
#A long-term vision
Thomas Dixon built his boot factory to stand as a “monument of pluck and indomitable perseverance.” A dream 10 years in the making, Queensland Ballet is ready to re-open the Thomas Dixon Centre as a home for all art, artists, and dreamers.
In 2022, the Thomas Dixon Centre's transformation represents an unwavering belief in the future of our art form, our community and Queensland Ballet. It has been made possible by the shared vision of our generous supporters and the passion of our community.
Queensland Ballet dreams big. We hope that the Thomas Dixon Centre will be a hub for arts and culture in Queensland, and a home for generations of artists, dancers and dreamers now and in the future.
More than bricks and mortar, The Thomas Dixon Centre will be a place of magic and rich art experiences that speak to the human spirit, connect people and share stories. It is only through the power of philanthropy that the dreams of Queensland Ballet can be realised. If you would like to know more about how you can support Queensland Ballet’s future dreams, please contact our Foundation team at email@example.com.
#Capital partners and supporters
Thank you to the Ian Potter Foundation, Ken Talbot Foundation, Clive & Conchita Armitage, Barbara Bedwell, Brett & Maria Clark, Mr Tim Fairfax AC & Gina Fairfax, Frazer Family Foundation, Ian & Cass George, Goldburg Family Foundation, Bruce & Jill Mathieson, David & Loraine McLaren, Murphy Family Foundation, Mr Trevor St. Baker AO & Mrs Judith St. Baker, Stack Family Foundation, Anne Symons, Mr Roy Thompson AC & Mrs Nola Thompson, Kay Van Norton Poche AO, Liz & Graeme Wikman, Mr Steve Wilson AM & Mrs Jane Wilson, Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd & Gina Rinehart, Terry & Lurleen Morris.
Plan your visit
If you have a ticket for an upcoming Queensland Ballet performance or event at the Thomas Dixon Centre, you will receive pre-attendance information specific to your event in the weeks leading up to your event, including parking and other transport information. General visitor information, including travelling to the Thomas Dixon Centre and accessibility is available on the Thomas Dixon Centre website.