Victoria has snapped up the theatre industry's controversial annual awards just months after letting the Logies slip through its fingers.
The Andrews government has dipped into its $60 million annual events honeypot in order to steal the Helpmann Awards from Sydney.
The annual ceremony recognises the best-of-the-best in Australia's live performance industries – including musical theatre, dance, opera, cabaret, comedy and live music.
Last year's awards were criticised heavily over a lack of representation for Australian creatives and productions in the music theatre categories.
The Labor government has dug deep into taxpayer pockets in recent years in a bid to create Melbourne's answer to London's West End. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be lured to the Victorian capital in early 2019, with post-9/11 musical Come From Away opening later that year.
Industry sources believe Premier Daniel Andrews has his eyes on a third international production, however the government has so far remained tight-lipped. It is also not saying how much it spent on securing the Helpmanns.
Victorian tourism minister John Eren said Melbourne was the obvious home for the Helpmann Awards.
"From our famous East End precinct to homegrown productions, we have so much to celebrate," he said. "Hosting these awards on our turf will inspire more Victorians to go centre stage."
A spokesman for Mr Eren could not guarantee that the cost of bringing the Helpmanns to Melbourne would be matched by tourism benefits dollar-for-dollar. He stressed, however, the government has worked closely with Visit Victoria to ensure "the best possible value for our state".
Melbourne will host the Helpmann Awards from 2019, with the 20th annual awards due to occur the year after. Live Performance Australia boss Evelyn Richardson said the awards had a "very successful" 18-year run in Sydney, but it was time for a new home.
"We are a national awards, so it makes sense for us to extend the reach of the awards and take them to other cities," she said. "We are certainly intending on broadening it even further in future years to make more opportunities for the public to attend. We will have more to say in the future with respect to whether we have different categories."
Broede Carmody is an entertainment reporter at Fairfax Media.
Nathanael Cooper is Fairfax Media's deputy entertainment editor
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