Coronavirus restrictions have seen Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) explore new ways to make use of their unutilised spaces, including the training of Victorian Guide Dogs, and filming of a Hollywood blockbuster.
MCEC closed its doors in March due to the pandemic, but as a major contributor to the Victorian economy, the venue has been exploring new ways to contribute to the community.
Peter King, chief executive of MCEC, said: “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.”
For instance, MCEC has been providing Guide Dogs Victoria a safe, contained and free-of-charge space to train Guide Dogs. This will ensure people with low vision or blindness can continue to receive essential services during restrictions.
Another example of using the enormous venue’s space differently includes as a film studio – an idea that was originally floated as part of an innovative new idea-generating ‘hackathon’ held by MCEC in August called ‘Unconventional Ideas’.
Since that event, MCEC has been working with the Victorian screen industry, and is now hosting the production of a major Hollywood film called Blacklight, starring Liam Neeson. Directed by Mark Williams (co-creator of Ozark and director of box-office success Honest Thief), the production is expected to bring more than 500 local jobs for cast and crew back to the local film sector.
MCEC continues to explore new uses for the venue, in addition to its newly-installed virtual event studios and technologies for hybrid and online events. In the pipeline are opportunities to use the building for safe and physically-distanced entertainment and events that may support the heavily affected hospitality, cinema and arts industries.