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Melbourne Squares off for cultural center

MELBOURNE – Australian creativity in various forms of screen entertainment is to have a new showcase in Melbourne’s Federation Square – and it will be accessible internationally.

The redevelopment of the central city site will incorporate a screen culture center displaying contempo and archival Australian product in two 600-seat cinemas and on TV and computer screens.

The center also will house Cinemedia (the recently merged government agencies Film Victoria and the State Film Center), the headquarters of the Melbourne Intl. Film festival and the Australian Film Institute, and the Melbourne branch of the National Film and Sound Archive. TV and radio studios are likely to be occupied by multicultural broadcaster SBS.

“We will be creating a programmable, multiscreen platform for education, entertainment and industry,” said Jenifer Hooks, acting exec director of Cinemedia. She said some of the screen culture material would be available online, including direct links to the Museum of Film & TV in New York, and to arts organizations in Europe.

One major attraction will be the Future Realities Gallery featuring interactive technology and exhibitions. The Federation Square project, which also includes a wintergarden containing restaurants, shops and performance spaces, is due for completion in October 2000 in time for the January 2001 celebrations marking 100 years since federation.

The entire development is costing A$128 million ($101 million), shared between the Victorian government and the city of Melbourne authority.

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