In May we were invited to bring a group of PDCN members to a consultation meeting with the Sydney Opera House to discuss upgrades that are occurring over the next few years. These upgrades are the most significant since the Opera House first opened in 1973 and will have a specific focus on improving accessibility in and around the venue. It was fabulous to be able to provide expertise and advice on the works being undertaken, and we have asked to be kept informed throughout the upgrade and will continue to provide information to you as it is received.
Upgrades currently underway to improve access include:
- Removing steps and replacing them with a ramp on the western side of the East Circular Quay entrance, allowing for a continuous path of travel from Circular Quay to the Opera House
- Two new ramps inside the entrance to replace the stairs
- A new lift in the main box office foyer to provide an independent path of travel in the Joan Sutherland Theatre. This will complement the new lift and passageway to the northern foyers which opened in November 2018
- Upgrading the area under the Monumental Steps with new, even paving to create a lighter space and remove trip hazards
- Work being undertaken on the online booking system to enable booking of accessible seats via this process (note this may take some time to implement).
Works which begin in February 2020 will include:
- A new accessible passageway to connect the Concert Hall Southern Foyer to areas currently not wheelchair accessible, including the Northern Foyer
- Upgrading an existing back-of-house lift in the main box office foyer to take patrons to the Concert Hall southern foyer. This will complement the new passage and lift in the northern foyer, and provide an independent path of travel to the Concert Hall for the first time
- Up to 34 new wheelchair-accessible positions in various locations inside the Concert Hall
- Wheelchair-accessible toilets and four back-of-house toilets for performers
- Lowering the stage, raising the backstage area and widening the wing space and corridors to make it easier for performers to access the stage.
Accessible transportation to and drop-off at the Opera House currently available includes:
- Daytime – accessible buggies currently running from the roundabout at the end of Macquarie St
- Evening – an accessible drop off point is available at the underground loading area from 6pm with a request of access at the front gate
- An accessible shuttle bus from Circular Quay runs for 1 hour and 45 minutes before a performance. This bus loops throughout this time period and continues to collect patrons.
For more information, check the Sydney Opera House website.