In 1936, Brisbane Amateur Theatres was founded by Jean Trundle and Vic Hardgraves. The company officially became known as Brisbane Arts Theatre in 1947; and 14 years later, the iconic building that resides at 210 Petrie Terrace became the company’s long-term home. This made Brisbane Arts Theatre the first theatre company in Brisbane to operate within its own theatre premises. Before becoming Brisbane Arts Theatre’s new home, the property was formerly known as Dan’s – a second hand shop. It was purchased for £6000 in June of 1956, and redeveloped. The first production to ever be stage in the new venue was The Multicoloured Umbrella by Armidale playwright Barbara Mary Vernon. The first season to appear on the iconic stage included nine plays of up to 20 performances each.
In the late 1960s, 206 Petrie Terrace was purchased and renamed the Cor Boogart Cottage (named after one of the theatre’s workshop managers of 27 years). The Cottage housed a workshop underneath it that was used for building sets and storing props. Shortly after, in 1971, 222 Petrie Terrace was also purchased. At first, the venue was used as a rehearsal space and a storage space for the theatre’s extensive costume collection. In May of 2011, 222 Petrie Terrace was sold, and 206 Petrie Terrace became the official home of the Costume Cottage.
In 2010, Brisbane Arts Theatre acquired a Registered Training Organisation status and began towards their goal of providing top-knotch education for emerging Brisbane artists.
In 2016, Brisbane Arts Theatre became the first community theatre to earn over $1 million dollars in revenue in a single year, earning us the title of ‘The Biggest Little Theatre in Australia’.
Brisbane Arts Theatre currently receives no funding from local, state or commonwealth bodies.