Astor Theatre petition reaches 10,000 signatures
Press release from Friends of the Astor Association
An online petition calling on the elite St Michael’s Grammar School to let Melbourne’s iconic art deco Astor Theatre survive has attracted 10,000 signatures in five days, making it one of website Change.org’s most successful Australian petitions ever.
The petition, part of a community campaign to Protect the Astor, was launched at 12.30pm on Wednesday and by 2pm today had clocked up more than 10,000 signatures from around Australia and the world, and hundreds of messages of support.
At its peak the petition was attracting 240 new signatures an hour.
“This has been one of the fastest growing petitions that Change.org has hosted in the six months it has been operating in Australia,” Change.org’s communications director, Tony Robertson, said.
“Other Australian petitions that have attracted this many signatories this quickly have been on national issues, so it is extraordinary for a state-based issue to draw this level of interest. The incredible response shows the depth of feeling about the need to protect The Astor Theatre.”
Petition organiser Vanda Hamilton, president of community organisation Friends of The Astor, said she was heartened that so many people cared about the future of The Astor.
“The people are speaking and I just hope the board of St Michael’s Grammar School is listening,” Ms Hamilton said.
“People do not want The Astor turned into a private school performing arts centre and uniform shop. They want this cinema, one of Australia’s last great picture palaces, to live on.”
The petition calls on St Michael’s Grammar School to relinquish the site. Supporters want to raise $5 million to buy the building and ensure it can continue its historic purpose as a cinema.
The online campaign has been assisted by Twitter support from film and television personalities, including comedian Tony Martin, Rove McManus, Adam Hills, Melissa Doyle and Rob Mills.
Supporters include film industry luminaries actor Michael Caton, Underbelly star Roy Billing, ABC TV At the Movies host David Stratton and The Cup star Stephen Curry, who will launch the campaign at a community day featuring a free movie and popcorn, tours and Jaffa rolling on 16 June.
Ms Hamilton said her organisation was not comforted by St Michael’s claims that its redevelopment would “protect the theatre’s historic use as a cinema” as there was no guarantee that The Astor in its current form would survive.
“The Astor has survived a World War and the advent of video, DVD, movies online and the multiplex. It would be a tragedy if it went the way of other classic and arthouse cinemas, like the Walter Burley Griffin Capitol Theatre, the Valhalla Cinema, The Longford, The Trak and the Carlton Moviehouse.”
To sign the online petition go to change.org/astor. For more information go to fota.net.au.