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In January this year Charlton was the first Victorian town to be inundated with the unprecedented flood waters that devastated communities across the State. In Charlton alone, 80% of the homes and 98% of the businesses suffered damage. The beloved Charlton Community Rex Theatre was one of these buildings. Water flooded the entire ground level, including the foyer. Carpets, flooring and some seating were all damaged beyond repair.
Built in 1938, the Charlton Community Hall was a popular cinema for a township of 1600 people. Back then it seated 617 and sold out shows four times a week. Five years ago, after many changes, (and even a short life as a dress shop), the building was sold. With a government promise to match funding dollar for dollar, the Charlton Community rose to the challenge to raise their share of $200,000 to purchase the hall. Within two days, they had raised $50 00 in pledged donations. In six weeks they had raised $92 000, and with a loan from the community bank, the Rex Theatre became the not-for-profit, community run venue it is today.
After the devastation inflicted by the January floods this community spirit came to aid the Rex Theatre again. In March a benefit concert was held by the Sorrento Community at the local Football Grounds. This event alone raised $25,000 to put directly into restoring the flood damaged flooring. This amount has added to another $306,000 pledged by the Cotton On Foundation and another $25,000 from Rural Finance which will aid further plans to improve the Rex as a theatre venue and fit it out with current projection facilities, new toilets, a stage and a fly tower.
It is hoped that the Rex Theatre will be reopened by September. The theatre is currently run by 60 volunteers, from those in their teens to their 80s.
For further details or to assist bringing this beautiful icon back to life, please see the Rex Theatre website.
Images below of the Rext interior were taken by RAV's Director Lindy Allen, on a recent statewide roadtrip.