Daring to Dream: How CENTREPIECE is creating a new wave of gala events

When you walk into a gala event, you don’t expect to see a piano suspended from the ceiling – or a 6m-tall LED screen transformed into a door.

But at CENTREPIECE at Melbourne Park, a surprising new wave of events is being curated. The venue opens a window to creativity and enables brands, businesses, and individuals to dream up exceptional gala experiences. And behind the curtain, a plethora of capabilities, specialists and exclusive partners are making it all possible.

From the fresh, local produce that goes into the customised menus to the spectacular rigging capabilities and technology that can transport you to another place – the traditional gala experience is, quite literally, being taken to new heights.

Tania Marshall, Venue Manager at CENTREPIECE, said the expectation of eventgoers has changed dramatically in recent years, with attendees more selective than ever. In turn, venues like CENTREPIECE have had to step up their offering and create a real sense of exclusivity and excitement. 

“People want an exemplary experience,” she said.  

“From guests being able to find amenities that are clean, high-end and stocked with everything they need – to the additional elements like custom lighting, rigging, decorative items and a bespoke menu. 

“They’re looking for their needs to be met before they have to ask and for an experience that is fun, premium and overall, second to none.” 

And that’s exactly what the CENTREPIECE team, together with the client, helped create at the Australian Institute of Architects Award Night in June this year.

Like something from the Oscars, a professional photo studio was set up on the side stage so award winners could have a ‘moment’ post-receiving their accolade (think professional photo booth, but better). Meanwhile, a surprise reveal on the terrace, which overlooks the city skyline, was set up to mark the end of the official proceedings and the start of the celebrations. Consisting of champagne, confetti and luxe decorations including imported Italian-designed lighting, the activation was an example of how the venue is enabling clients’ creative visions to come to life for a flawless event.

This was evident at the 2022 Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) Welcome Event too, which was held at CENTREPIECE for the first time.

Guests were treated to a night akin to a Broadway show, beginning with a group of roaming musicians and acrobats leading them through the wider Melbourne Park to CENTREPIECE.

Inside, aerial performers twirled from the 8-metre-high ceilings above while a grand pianist on a suspended platform stole the show.

Corey Bulley, Event Staging Manager at Microhire said the activation, which took months of planning, was totally unique and combined many elements to create a “wow factor”. 

This included a 6m-tall LED screen, installed and secured by resident staging company Showtech, which became a focal point of the night.  

“Positioned behind the screen were two of Showtech’s technicians, ready for the all-important moment where the screen turned into a set of doors and seemingly parted when one of the aerialists walked over and timidly knocked, seeking entry,” he said. 

“The attendee reaction was audibly noticeable.” 

Unsurprisingly, a lot of ideation and planning is required to execute such prestigious events. Teams from across CENTREPIECE work together to ensure every detail is perfected – from the menu to the sound levels and the positioning of every projection or performer.  

And they’re not afraid to take risks or do things a little differently either.  

In May 2022, the annual Committee for Melbourne gala dinner showcased some impressive, innovative and sustainable new ways of creating a unique event.

The venue’s pre-function area was transformed into a forest while paper menus were replaced with a modern projection onto tables.  

Marshall said food was also being reimagined and could be a creative way of making an event stand out. 

“The menu can be a great way to create a moment that guests can be a part of – from consuming the food or playing a role in its preparation to food stations, live cooking stalls and roaming oyster shuckers,” she said. 

This new age of gala events is only just beginning and with venues like CENTREPIECE, a masterpiece can really be created. 

Looking ahead, Marshall said creativity and innovation would be essential to putting on an experience guests not only choose to engage with but are blown away by.  

“For the CENTREPIECE team, creating an experience at an event translates to making positive, lasting memories,” she said. 

In 2022, CENTREPIECE took out top honours in the Victorian Tourism Awards for the best new tourism business, further demonstrating their ability to turn the event space into a masterpiece for any occasion.

Get in touch with our team of event specialists and find out how you can make CENTREPIECE your next Masterpiece.