THE circus came to town and the children watched in wonder outside Newcastle’s former post office today.
Led by clown doctor Jean-Paul Bell, performers from the Arts Health Institute juggled, told jokes and taught magic tricks to celebrate World Circus Day tomorrow (Saturday April 20).
More than 100 people gathered from midday around the run-down post office site in Hunter Street to watch the show.
‘‘Everyone here is in favour of making the post office more theatrical and fun in Newcastle,’’ Mr Bell said.
Arts Health Institute chief executive Maggie Haertsch hopes to turn the 1903 post office into a hub for performances, exhibitions and independent films.
‘‘We need to really honour and respect the post office’s history and give it a new purpose,’’ she said.
Ms Haertsch said from the early 1900s to after WWII, the Newcastle Post Office was the place for inner-city celebrations.
The Arts Health Institute and Newcastle firm EJE Architecture have developed plans for reopening the heritage-listed sandstone building to the public.
The plans include a cafe, art house cinema, exhibition and performance spaces.
The proposal will compete with other suitors for the state-government owned building, which will cost an estimated $10-$15million to repair.
The Arts Health Institute, which is based in The Lock-Up Cultural Centre next to the post office, runs nationwide programs bringing performers into health and aged-care environments.