After population and climate, the most important influence on Townsville’s cultural life is its isolation. The nearest city of comparable size is Cairns, two-thirds our size and 350 km (200 miles) away, and the nearest city larger than our own is Brisbane, 1500 km (900 miles) away.
The result is that we are thrown very much on our own resources when it comes to any live entertainment: if we don’t produce it ourselves, we often don’t see it at all. Complementarily, we have little competition from outside our own community. Yes, we are visited by touring acts ranging from the state opera company to James Morrison but our situation is far different from that of (for example) Geelong, which is too close to Melbourne to have much cultural life of its own.
Because of this, Townsville has a far better line-up of performing arts groups than one might expect. The theatre scene boasts a professional dance company, a professional theatre company (Shakespeare to Strindberg and beyond), two amateur music-theatre groups (High Society, Les Miserables, etc), an amateur theatre group, and an excellent youth dance company. On the musical side, we have an orchestra, a concert band, two brass bands and a jazz big band (all adult amateur groups led by local professional and semi-pro musicians) as well as school and community youth orchestras, choirs and concert bands — and those are just the bigger organisations.
Townsville Arts Links
The Townsville City Council funds a free monthly email newsletter, the Arts e-Bulletin, which relays the news from many local arts organisations. My own list here is only a personal selection and is not guaranteed to stay up to date.
Townsville Community Music Centre has seen many changes but still presents concerts and workshops.
Australian Festival of Chamber Music annual (midwinter) festival featuring Australian and overseas musicians.
Barrier Reef Orchestra, Townsville’s own orchestra.
North Queensland Opera and Music Theatre and the Townsville Choral Society are the two amateur music theatre companies, each with its permanent choir.
NQ Irish Association, included here because their activities centre on folk music and dance.
Townsville Cinema Group, one of Australia’s oldest film societies, might not strictly qualify as ‘performing arts’ but they put on some wonderful movies.
Last updated Oct 2020; links checked Feb 2021