The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has been exploring new ways to use its unutilised spaces, including the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster starring Liam Neeson and the training of guide dogs, following the venue’s closure in March of this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Peter King, chief executive of MCEC, said: “Even with the impacts of the pandemic, we contributed AU$740m (US$525m) in economic impact to the state last financial year, and a further AU$1.1bn (US$780m) the year prior. We can play an important role in the state’s economic recovery by using our spaces in new ways, both to bring jobs back to the city and support the wider community.”
One of the ways the venue has been used is as a film studio, an idea that was originally floated as the Unconventional Ideas hackathon held by MCEC in August. The
Since that event, MCEC has been working with the Victorian screen industry, and is now hosting the production of Blacklight, starring Liam Neeson. Directed by Mark Williams (co-creator of Ozark and director of Honest Thief), the production is expected to bring more than 500 local jobs for cast and crew back to the local film sector.
MCEC is also supporting the community by providing Guide Dogs Victoria a free-of-charge space for training. This will ensure people with low vision or blindness can continue to receive essential services during restrictions.
King said: “We have an environment that is accessible and safe for the community to continue to work to their needs. In these unpredictable times we need to pull together as a community and be resourceful, and we are looking for opportunities to make sure our wonderful space is being utilised.”
MCEC has installed new virtual event studios and technologies for hybrid and online events, and has plans to use the building for physically-distanced entertainment and events in the future.