The Shopfront Arts Co-op at Carlton celebrated the start of construction on its $2 million expansion today.
Representatives of arts organisations, local MPs and Bayside and Georges River councillors gathered to celebrate the next phase of the area's unique arts co-op.
It is the biggest project of its 43-year history as a community youth arts training facility.
The aim of the expansion is to make Shopfront NSW's premier youth arts facility.
Since 1976 Shopfront has provided training and development opportunities for thousands of young artists.
And the expansion project will allow Shopfront to provide training for thousands more with a new multipurpose performance space and community rooms that the arts co-op will share with six other arts and community organisations.
The project will provide Shopfront with a new centre next door to its existing theatre and performing spaces allowing it to provide opportunities for an additional 1160 young people a year.
This will include an additional 120 young people at risk of disengaging from the school system, an additional 90 young people at risk of entering the juvenile justice system, 100 CALD young people and 65 young people and emerging artists with a disability.
Shopfront already serves about 1800 young people a year and the expansion will allow it to provide more programs and attract professional arts organisations from out of the area.
Shopfront Arts Co-op chief executive officer Daniel Potter said the day was a significant milestone in the organisation's history.
"The expansion will provide an opportunity for enhanced community space and be an arts and cultural hub for young people in the community," he said.
"It will provide a chance to attract professional arts organisations that would not otherwise have programs in the area."
As well as the existing theatre, dance studio, recording studio and visual arts room, the extension will provide six rooms to be used by professional arts organisations, a new multipurpose room upstairs to be used for rehearsals, performances, a gallery or functions.
There will be a new rooftop terrace and a renovated foyer which could also be used as a gallery space.
"This will renew our commitment to the area and is about making sure we are here for another 43 years to act as a cultural and arts hub for young people," Daniel said.
Work is expected to be completed by February.