The 150-year-old four-storey building at 63 Light Square (formerly Live on Light Square) is being transformed into a live performance space, restaurant, “community-focused” cafe, and outdoor bar and performance area set to open in the new year.

Founders Nick and Sophie Dunstone have teamed up with high-profile event and hospitality figures Jordan Jeavons, Brendan Wessels, Richard Gunner and Simon Bryant to bring the $9 million project – Light – to life.

Multi-genre live venue, The Lab, will feature an all-encompassing program – curated by Music SA chair Anne Wiberg – from live bands, DJs and classical performances to experimental visual arts and tech. The “digitally immersive experience” will include full height surround LED screens with the ability to “transport the artists and audiences to any place, real or imagined”.

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“We want the venue to be an available, accessible and comfortable space where new work is commissioned and people come to play with tech that hasn’t been on offer before,” says Wiberg.

Restaurant Aurora will be led by chef Brendan Wessels (ex-The Cube and Leonard’s Mill), who’ll be working with Simon Bryant and Richard Gunner to highlight local produce.

An advisory board of eight South Australians, including classical musician and author Anna Goldsworthy, Patch Theatre artistic director Geoff Cobham and arts expert Dorothy Di Stefano have also put their weight behind the project.

“This will be a place to unleash the creativity of South Australians and connect them with the best opportunities and technology available,” says Nick.

Nick, a businessman who sits on corporate and philanthropic boards, and Sophie, a clinical psychologist, returned to Adelaide in 2018 – after 20 years living in Hong Kong, Sydney and London – looking to support the arts in a way that would make a significant contribution to the community. They bought the heritage-listed property earlier this year – a well-timed pursuit after the impact of Covid-19 on both the arts and hospitality sectors.

The concept will double as a training ground, providing education and mentor programs to people looking to work in the arts and hospitality. “We want people to feel comfortable, have new experiences and get excited about art and hospitality and we want to look after the artists and our staff,” says Sophie.

“We are trying to do something that is creative, philanthropic and self-sustaining, and without the constraints often experienced by publicly-funded arts organisations,” adds Nick. “Light will provide artists with a blank canvas and an opportunity for arts and hospitality to co-exist, supporting each other and the growth of artistic talent.

Light will open in February 2021.