Out of the Box at Venue 114
By their very nature, multi-purpose venues can be seen as ‘big boxes’ but as Deb Caruso discovers, it’s what’s inside that counts.
With all venues, there needs to be a certain level of ‘boxiness’ in the design to enable for the staging of various events but as Forrest Gump once said about things inside boxes, “you never know what you’re gonna get.”
And with Venue 114, you never know what magic lies within the space but you can be assured that the hard-working team want you to leave feeling richer for the experience.
From community group meetings to Burlesque performances, charity galas, weddings, celebrations, presentations, conferences, forums, festivals, formals, concerts and more – Venue 114 on the edge of Lake Kawana has been busy making memories for almost two decades.
It is this vitality and energy that Venue Manager Louise Thompson loves – and has loved for the past 16 years. She has been working here since the building was under construction, originally starting in admin and within four years taking on the role of Manager. Although at that time, the venue was known as Lake Kawana Community Centre.
Whilst the name changed in 2018, the dedication to community remained. It is a priority for Louise that Venue 114 and the other council owned and operated spaces she manages including the self-service venues of Kawana Island Meeting Place, Coolum Civic Centre, Bellvista Meeting Place and Kawana Community Hall, are used and loved by the community.
It is her belief that this only happens when there is inclusion, accessibility and authenticity coupled with a focus on sustainability from an economic, social and environmental viewpoint.
Venue 114 is currently the only full-service venue under Louise’s management and it is the flagship with its range of facilities catering to a wide range of events for eight to 1400 people across fifteen different, interchangable spaces.
The team can deliver personalised event management including ticketing, advertising and catering as well as in-house production and technical services, all within one of few facilities on the Sunshine Coast that has achieved EarthCheck Evaluate status, something to be proud of.
“We want people to know that whatever type of event they come to at Venue 114, that event will be professionally delivered and with people at its core,” Louise said. “I’ve been saying this for 16 years, but I want people to love this venue so much and to have such a connection that if it was to be bulldozed, people would be chaining themselves to the posts,” she laughs.
“I want them to have that connection, to feel the soul within the building, to have made great memories here.”
That passionate following was certainly building.
“We had great traction and were in a position to be able to program incredible national performers but in 2020 we lost that momentum so we’ve spent the last two years starting over, in a way,” Louise said.
Indeed Venue 114 was defining their space in the events industry through the focus on service, bold programming and just plain good vibes.
In 2019, they hosted more than 1,500 diverse events, attracting 82,000 people through the doors and the year 2020 was on track to deliver significantly more with an anticipated 100,000 people in attendance.
Louise said “As we all know, it was an incredibly tough time in 2020. We just had to positive and focus on our main objective of exceeding expectations with events we could still deliver, in whatever format that was,” she said.
“We turned to virtual and hybrid events and implemented new ways of doing business including live streaming.
“But personally, I feel nothing beats the energy of 1400 people at a music gig or the passion of 400 performers backstage at a Burlesque L’amour show.”
Kimberley Rider joined as Marketing & Development Officer just over 12 months ago bringing expertise and knowledge with marketing and strategic communications.
“We’re almost going back to basics to let people know who we are and what we do,” Louise says. “We are taking ownership of the space and we invite the community to do the same.”
Kimberley agrees adding that it was hard to define the space because the venue means different things to different people.
“The common thread though is the way people feel here and the passion to support ‘grassroots’ – this is definitely a venue where someone can have a seed of an idea for an event, and it becomes possible. There are some incredibly powerful events that take place here.”
Louise said seeing 12-year-olds experience their first live music event with Amy Shark in a safe environment was an absolute thrill.
“It’s such an honour to share people’s stories and experiences in this space,” Louise said. “Particular highlights this year included hosting the Australian Wearable Art Festival and the SunnyKids Mayoral Ball.
“Anything to do with supporting a local charity is always close to my heart.”
While bookings are strong heading in to 2023, the team plan to also create their own community-focused events, including more of the “In Conversation” series they originally launched; and an increase in music concerts.
Kimberley said conferences also worked well across the venue’s three levels with large conference or expo spaces as well as smaller areas for workshops.
“All of our rooms have breakout areas, most of them with stunning water views and with the flexibility of the two indoor performance stages and the outdoor ‘Sunset Stage’ we see a great opportunity to deliver more indoor/outdoor events moving forward,” she said.
“It also gives us the flexibility to have wet weather contingency for our events – which has been incredibly important in the last 12 months!”
With flexible spaces (did I mention you can drive cars inside!), a passionate team who love to create ‘soul’ and deliver signature events, you really don’t know what you’re going to get – but you know it’s going to be great!
Here are some of the initiatives that have earned Venue 114 EarthCheck accreditation:
- Reusable/compostable/recyclable options
- Solar panels
- LED lighting and timers in the main halls and carpark
- Water coolers for refills
- 2 x 20,000L underground water tanks used on gardens and toilets
- Landfill and recycling bin stations
- Catering with filtered coffee and tea using reusable crockery and utensils
- Conference elements in recyclable cardboard
- Zest Coffee Van offers 50c discount on BYO cups; reusable cups through the Community Cup Bank and reusable packaging for food storage; food scraps and coffee grinds composted at the neighbouring Eastbank Community Garden.
- Minimising paper usage and printing and using 100% recycled paper
- Online ticketing and scanning using Humanitix with 100% of profits directed to charities
- Rechargeable batteries for all battery-operated equipment
- Internal catering based on sustainable practices including leftovers donated to OzHarvest