To commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Australian Ballet, the Federal Government is providing $2 million for the fit-out of the company's new production centre to be constructed in Altona, Melbourne.
Arts Minister Simon Crean said the centre will be a state-of-the art facility for the creation, maintenance and storage of the scenery, props, lighting and costumes for the company's critically acclaimed and well-loved productions.
'The company has 90 ballets in its repertoire with sets and costumes estimated to be worth $40 million,' Mr Crean said.
'The custom-designed centre will ensure these valuable assets are preserved so that the ballets can be restaged and enjoyed by future audiences, including younger and first-time audience members.
'The centre will support the outstanding work the company does in bringing world-class performances to the nation's regions and will transform the way The Australian Ballet undertakes production work.
'Projects such as this illustrate our commitment to supporting not just what we see on stage, but the work that goes on behind the scenes to bring these performances to fruition.'
Mr Crean said the centre will also be used as an education resource, giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how a ballet production comes together.
'In the future, interactive digital tours will be explored for interstate and regional schools, harnessing the high-speed broadband capabilities of the National Broadband Network,' Mr Crean said.
Federal Member for Gellibrand Nicola Roxon said the new national ballet production facility will bring a new dynamic to the Altona area.
'The 10,000 square metre centre will house costumes, a 12 metre high scenery assembly area, two recessed loading docks, wardrobe and scenery workspaces and a virtual design studio,' Ms Roxon said.
'The project is expected to deliver over 100 jobs during the construction phase and support for 200 ongoing jobs across the company, including specialist artisans and technicians with expertise in costume, set and lighting design.
'This is great news for the people of Gellibrand who will be delighted to host such an important national cultural facility.'
Chair of The Australian Ballet, Chris Knoblanche, said the Australian Government's contribution will help encourage further funding for the construction of the Centre from other governments, and through the company's fundraising initiatives.
'We applaud the Australian Government for their exemplary show of leadership,' Mr Knoblanche said.
'This is a timely gift to celebrate this iconic company's 50th anniversary.
'It's our hope that the Government's generosity will move others to show their support and ensure that the art form is secure for the next generation of audiences to enjoy.'
The Australian Ballet is one of Australia's flagship performing arts companies.
The company presents over 800 performances and education events in Australia each year as well as a number of overseas tours, including the upcoming 50th anniversary tour to New York in June 2012.
The Australian Government provides around $5.4 million annually to support the company's operations.