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Smith’s Alternative bigger and better with new auditorium open

By Ian Bushnell 24 July 2018 1

The Mark Levers Trio opens the new auditorium at Smith’s Alternative. Photos: Supplied.

Smith’s Alternative will now be able to attract bigger acts and broaden its offering with the opening of its new 100-seat auditorium.

The city music venue has taken over the lease of the space next door, previously a newsagency, and for the past couple of months has been fitting it out.

It now has a stage, an enormous lighting rig and for the first time, an actual dressing room for performers. The space will also have unimpeded views of acts from anywhere in the room, something regulars to the Alinga Street venue, who had to contend with poles, will no doubt appreciate.

Smith’s owner Nigel McRae said a patron built the 11 metres by three metres steel lighting rig on site with his welder, and it had to be hoisted above the stage.

He said the new space would not only lift Smith’s viability as a venue but enable to it be more versatile, with the 46-seat original bar looking after the regulars who might just want a drink and a chat, but also still able to stage gigs as well, such as small musical acts, poetry and comedy nights, as well as book launches.

Finishing touches being made to the new gig space at Smith’s Alternative in the city.

“Now with a 100 capacity in the auditorium, we can attract slightly bigger acts, but also it gives us more versatility,” Mr McRae said. “The space is much more usable as a theatrical space, so we’ve already had inquiries from a couple of theatre companies which might want to put on plays there.

“It’s also good for film screenings. We want every form of performing art Canberra has to offer.”

The auditorium – which opened last Thursday night with jazz group the Mark Levers Trio and solo artists Aphir, Arrom and Tim Pearce – should have its liquor licence this week.

Throw in outdoor seating as well and the new Smith’s capacity is now about 200.

Come October, Smith’s Alternative will have been operating under the present management for three years.

For more information about the venue and upcoming gigs go to

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Smith’s Alternative bigger and better with new auditorium open
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Capital Retro 8:41 am 24 Jul 18

Great move.

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