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CoCA Cairns set for transformation

In 2018-19, the Centre of Contemporary Arts (CoCA) Cairns will be upgraded through a commitment of $3.5 million from the Queensland Government, as part of a four-year $17.5 million Arts Infrastructure Investment Fund to revitalise state-owned assets to generate cultural and economic outcomes.

A revitalised CoCA will strengthen the local arts sector and help expand cultural tourism in Far North Queensland, opening up new performance and creative opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and providing rich cultural experiences to new audiences.

Proposed plans include:

  • a redesign of the building’s facade and entry to reflect the centre’s Indigenous performing arts focus
  • flexible office space for existing tenants, emerging organisations and individual arts workers
  • upgraded theatre equipment and amenities
  • new studio spaces for arts participation and development activity
  • improved theatre access, including new foyer
  • enhanced access to gallery and retail spaces, and the opportunity to incorporate new public artworks.


Arts Queensland has appointed local firm TPG Architects to carry out the design work with support from dancer and choreographer Pauline Lampton and visual artist Brian Robinson. 

An arts community consultation session was held on Friday 15 June. TPG Architects’ presentation from this session, featuring the early design concepts for the refurbished CoCA Cairns, is available for download below. (Please note, the concept drawings and photos in the presentation are for illustrative purposes only).

Download TPG Architects’ presentation here (PDF) (20.43 MB)

Key themes from the local arts sector feedback that emerged during the session, and through subsequent consultation, were:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture

  • Share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories (inside and outside the building)
  • Welcoming of Indigenous community members and ongoing dialogue with Traditional Owners

Regional focus

  • Inclusive of remote and regional communities including the Cape and Torres Strait Islands
  • Linked in to local community and cultural infrastructure planning

Design principles

  • Accessible, inclusive and green
  • Greater sense of arrival, welcome, entry points and flow in foyer


  • Outdoor space for events, ceremonies and performance
  • Space for other organisations to work, e.g. hot desks and studios
  • Multipurpose spaces for development, workshops, pop ups and functions
  • Quality food and beverage services and space

Arts Queensland thanks the local arts sector members who provided feedback on the early design concepts for the CoCA Cairns – this stage of consultation is now complete, with feedback to be incorporated into the draft designs.


For general enquiries on the CoCA revitalisation project, please email

Project timeline:
  • Centre closed for building works – September 2018
  • Expected reopening – mid-2019