New look for Civic Hall

The Civic Hall Plaza gardens are approaching completion:

The landscaping of the Civic Hall Plaza is approaching completion although there is controversy over the finishing touches.  Does the red paint of the concrete edges fit with the colours used during the early post war period?  Does it respect the heritage of the era?  To help  you decide take the Civic Hall Precinct Walk compiled by member Barbara Cytowicz .

The Current Situation:

Council cancelled an event on January 27 that was to take place outside the Civic Hall to launch the Rockabilly Festival and showcase the gardens.  it was cited that the gardens were not ready for the event.  Delays are becoming  increasingly frustrating as the garden  works were due for completion in August 2017.

Restoration of the interior of the Main Hall has not yet commenced.  The future of the Lower Civic Hall remains in doubt with demolition a real possibility as the State government GOV HUB plans were revealed.  Save Civic Hall members have met with Council officers, Regional Development Victoria and the architects for the redevelopment of the Main Hall and the GOV HUB.   The outcomes are less than satisfactory with many concerns over the viability of the Civic Hall into the future if the proposed demolition and development plans are implemented.

The State Government intends to demolish the Lower Hall and erect a new building in its place.  John Wardle Architects claim that an engineers report has been carried out and the structure will withstand  the removal of the Lower Hall.  We have our doubts and have requested to see a copy of this report.  As yet nothing has been forthcoming.  We believe that it is unnecessary to demolish the whole of the Lower Hall.

A firewall is to be erected between the main hall and the new Lower Hall building.  We believe that this will completely separate the building and there will be no access to dressing rooms for the users of the Lower Hall building which will be managed by the GOV HUB.  There is no guarantee that this venue will be available to the community as it will no longer be a Council asset and community use will be up to the Government’s discretion.

The restoration of the main hall has yet to be commenced.  There are concerns over dressing rooms and a green room which  is to be built underneath the main stage with the only access to the stage being a small lift.  The proposed left is far too small to carry people and equipment and would need to be much larger.  Council officers agreed and promised to amend the plan to create a larger lift.

We are in the early part of 2018 and many have just returned from the summer break.  We are hopeful that we can secure another meeting with Council, Regional Development and the architects  to voice our concerns and try to negotiate further.


To be or not to be….VCAT is a consideration:

Save Civic Hall is exploring its options and hope that negotiations can continue to secure a good outcome for the community and the users of this amazing structure.  VCAT is an option that we are currently investigating as Council’s own Heritage Adviser  recommended that no part of the Civic Hall should be demolished as it is a significant historical building with a substantial social history that is important to the region.

What Year is this?:

We were delighted that  this poster has emerged.  There was some debate on our Facebook Page as to the year that the event took place.  Most said 1990’s.  It would be interesting to know for sure.  It could for part of a poster-art wall like the one on display at the Music Vault Exhibition…a free permanent exhibition space at the Arts Centre, Melbourne.

The Music Vault:

The Music Vault opened in December at the Arts Centre, Melbourne (next to the national Art Gallery) and is a free and permanent exhibition space.   It celebrates the history of Australian contemporary Pop and Rock music from the very early days of the 1950’s up to recent times.  There is so much to see and hear with  film footage , costumes of all your favourite performers, poster art and memorabilia.  The Amplifier is well worth a look with film footage of Countdown performances and The 1972 Sunbury Music Festival.  The exhibition portrays not only music history but celebrates the birth of the unique  Australian Identity and sound  through the development of Australia’s own recording industry that took the world by storm with performers  such as The Easybeats, INXS, Midnight Oil, The Divinyls, ACDC, The Angels,  Olivia Newton John,  Men at Work, Mental As Anything and so many more.

This exhibition also reflects the history of the  Ballarat Civic Hall as many of the performers who are portrayed in the exhibition performed in the very hall that we fought so hard to save.

 Save Civic Hall wishes you a belated Happy New Year  2018, and will continue to work towards the best outcome for our Civic Hall and the Community.








1950s Garden Party

It’s been a long, continuing slog over the Civic Hall, over so many years and we thought we deserved a little fun! So we are having a Garden Party at my old brewery in Buninyong on Sunday 5 November, 2 – 5pm. Grammar Saxophone Ensemble and Ballarat Ukulele Kollective duo are playing, and at the moment the garden is looking rather gorgeous.

As with the 61st Anniversary in August, this is a chance to again meet and thank our many supporters. It’s free, and there’s prizes for the best 1950s costumes. Our Mayor Samantha McIntosh has agreed to be the judge. Of course, there’s no obligation to dress up. Another prize will go to the best comment or recollection of the year 1956 – the year the Civic Hall was built.

If you’d like to contribute a plate to share, we’d be grateful, or just come! Tea, coffee etc will be provided. The Brewery is an indoor/outdoor venue, in case of poor weather.

Brewery courtyard in Spring

Poor Plans

The latest plans from the architects suggest that the Lower Hall will be demolished. This is clearly not a good scenario as the Lower Hall contains all the essential backstage facilities such as dressing rooms etc.
These plans would turn the Civic Hall into little more than a poor venue for meetings. It would be very hard, if not impossible to stage large-scale events – for which it was designed.
civic hall stage Two P 3

Celebrations for Civic Hall’s 61st Anniversary

61st Anniversary Celebratory Cake

Civic Hall Celebrates 61 years

Civic Hall Celebrated the  61st anniversary of her Grand Opening on August 20 with a Fundraiser movie ” Hampstead”  a delightful romantic comedy addressing some very relevant issues pertaining to Civic Hall and the campaign to save Civic Hall from being demolished and the crown  land given over to developers.  

We had a good turn out of people and met some new supporters who were passionate that the entire Civic Hall should be retained, restored and re-opened as soon as possible.  We sang Happy Birthday, raised a glass to the Grand Old Girl and devoured an amazing cake, but left the Lower Civic Hall portion intact…..symbolic of the overall community sentiment to save it.  

A big thank you to all those people who purchased tickets and supported this event.  We raised some much needed funds to continue our work to save Civic Hall.  

The opening of the Ballarat Civic Hall August 20 1956

Meeting with Council Officers, The Mayor and Architect, John Clark

On Wednesday August 23 ,representatives of Save Civic Hall and Ballarat Arts Alive met with CEO Justine Linley, Mayor Samantha McIntosh, Council Officers and John Clark, Architect of Baumgart Clark Architects. 

This was a very good opportunity to see the latest re-development plans and ask questions of the Council and Architect John Clark.  There were some serious flaws with the plans and people from Ballarat Arts Alive were able to point out what would and would not work with potential users.  

We were advised that experts in Theatre Design were about to be brought in to further develop the plan.  it was the first meeting and we were assured that there would be further opportunities to view any further plans and offer feedback.  

It was a very positive meeting, however there was still no assurance that the Lower Civic Hall would be included in any further plans, something that does not sit well with us and we will continue to lobby for its retention.

Lower Civic Hall Foyer

Public Meeting Tuesday September 5 , 2017

Everyone is encouraged to attend a free Public Meeting to discuss the future of the Civic Hall on Tuesday September 5 at Frangos & Sons Greek Restaurant, 313 Sturt St (next to Myer).  We hope to see you there to share any information and ideas.

Songways Music Mapping

Civic Hall is now featuring on Ballarat Historic Urban Landscape website, including the wonderful INXS poster for our Backspace exhibition in 2015.

Explore live music stories across Ballarat places and spaces …






Civic Hall Celebrates 61 years with a film night fundraiser


Help us Save the Lower Civic Hall from Demolition.

Film Fundraiser to save the Lower Civic Hall.

Save Civic Hall is having a Movie Fund Raiser on Sunday August 20 at 4.30pm to celebrate the 61st Anniversary of the opening of the Civic Hall on 20 August 1956.
Funds are needed to continue our work to lobby Local and State Governments to retain the entire building including the retention of the Lower Civic Hall for community events and performances now and into the future.

The Lower Civic Hall is vital to the overall viability of the Civic Hall as this is where all the necessary amenities are located for successful performances.  The Civic Hall was purpose built to cater for all the needs of the community and performances.  It is cleverly interlinked and is one building with two halls.  Although they can both hold events at the same time they are integrated and should never be separated as the building would be ruined should demolition of the Lower Civic Hall take place.

Any unused funds will go towards the development of a Civic Hall Foundation.
Come along and join in the fun at the Regent Cinema and later at the George Hotel for drinks and a cake. 

The movie is Hampstead, a delightful romantic drama/comedy that deals with issues of ageing and homelessness.

To purchase tickets:
Visit – Frank Ford Travel, 1209 Sturt St, Ballarat
or phone Merle 0419324042 or Brian 0447486719



Sausage Sizzle Fundraiser this Sunday August 6

Save Civic Hall is having a Sausage Sizzle fundraiser this Sunday August 6 at 10am-2pm outside of Coles Supermarket , Bakery Hill Shopping Complex, Victoria St, Ballarat East”/coles+supermarket+ballarat+east/data=!4m5!4m4!1m0!1m2!1m1!1s0x6ad145ab1df69b93:0x598974c5d736b7cc?sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-z__N67rVAhXIsJQKHUPgDLEQ9RcIfjAL

Please call past, say hello and buy a delicious Sausage and/or drink.  Tickets for the Film fundraiser will also be on sale.   




Petition to save Lower Hall

A new petition is out to show that Ballarat needs its Lower Hall. The architects of the current draft plans for the interior of the Civic Hall were told to leave out the Lower Hall, to allow for possible demolition to give more space for the proposed State Government offices. So they have had to suggest expensive adaptions to try to reproduce the functions of the Lower Hall within the remaining hall.

This creates unusable small ‘theatres’ on the stage and balcony that do not have the necessary backstage facilities, especially for large-scale performances. So the Civic Hall would have a much reduced capacity.

The Lower Hall seats around 400. It has its own stage and fly tower, snack bar and ticket. Its foyer and adjoining rooms could easily be used by the Library for meetings and training rooms.

It was always a popular space for local groups to hire – used for musicals, dances, speech nights etc. It would be pointless to demolish it.

Sign the Petition to Save the Lower Hall HERE

State Government plan for the Civic Hall Site

The South West Corner of The Civic Hall

$47.8 Million GvtHub office:

On Friday May 5 the State Govenment revealed to the Courier Newspaper their plan for the Civic Hall site.   According to the Media Release of May 4…

“The GovHub funded in the Victoria Budget 2017/2018, will be home up to 1000 government employees, including 600 new positions to the city, and will help revitalise a major part of the Ballarat CBD.  This brand new office will include employees across:

  • Dept of Education and Training,
  • Dept of Justice and Regulation
  • Dept of Economic Development, jobs, Transport & resources (DEDJTR)
  • Dept of Economics, Dept of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
  • State Revenue Office
  • Vic Roads,
  • Service Victoria.

The site will be developed in partnership with the Ballarat Council.”

The Courier dated May 5, revealed the State Government’s  artist’s impression of the new office building that is proposed for the site.

It raises more questions than answers!

Firstly this is an artist’s impression what are the specifications?

The drawing indicates that it  is a massive building …will it really fit on the site or is it a Pie In the Sky?

If it was to go on the site it will certainly dwarf the Civic Hall and it will surely not be sympathetic to the heritage of the Civic Hall and surrounding buildings in the Heritage Overlay 171 Lydiard St.

Lower Civic Hall To Be Demolished:

The State Government wishes to demolish the Lower Civic Hall to make way for their enormous office building.  This will severely impact on the viability of the remaining Main Hall as the features which make it functional will be destroyed such as, dressing rooms and Assembly area for performing groups and bands.  Save Civic Hall will advocate for the Lower Civic Hall to be incorporated into any development on the eastern side of the Civic Hall site.

The Civic Hall is one structure not two,  and it was cleverly designed by Architect and Mayor Les Coburn for both halls to be integrated as one and make use of the undulating land to maximize the use of the current site.  It is not appropriate to remove any part of the building as advised by Council’s own Heritage adviser Brian Benson.  To do so would compromise the integrity of the building.

Library Expansion:

If Council continue with the current Master plan, the Main Hall will be given over to the Library Expansion and the opportunity to host large events will be lost forever.   The Library can still expand but not into the Main Hall.

1000 Jobs:

Save Civic Hall supports jobs coming to Ballarat and we also do not object to appropriate development on the Civic Hall site.   The jobs that will come to Ballarat may not be long term as 500 are construction jobs which will eventually end as the project ends.  The government jobs are existing jobs and relocation for employees from Melbourne .  There is no evidence of any long term local  job creation.

350 Carparks

We can not deny that we need more parking in the CBD.   The Council have just re-made the car park on the eastern side of the Civic Hall.   According to the State Government’s artist impression of the proposed development an office will be build on it.  So the Council have wasted how much?

If the State Government were not allocating  the land at the Railway Station to Developers there could be more parking available on that site.  The car parks that are planned will be for the serviced apartments and not for commuters.

Civic Hall Plaza:

The Civic Hall Plaza development is well under way with the area fenced off and will be for some time.  We are disappointed that there are only three  of the original trees left on the south west corner, far more trees were removed than what we initially understood would be the case.  Also disappointing is the removal of the two Silver Birch trees that stood tall and proud outside of the entrance.  The works are expected to be completed by the end of the year.


The Civic Hall Plaza S.H.E.A Plan

The Courier Front Page  May 5, 2017





Civic Hall is here to stay for the next generations

A word from our Save Civic Hall Secretary

“Dear SCH Committee and supporters,

We are at an interesting (& slightly nail-biting time) with the Civic Hall.

Our years of lobbying and educating Council and the community has resulted in a Council commitment to saving at least most of the Civic Hall from demolition, and to reopening the Civic Hall as soon as possible. However, there is still some doubt about the future of the Lower Hall, and we are waiting to hear the details of the interior works to start soon. A few points – 
1.  Work has already begun on the landscaping. We are disappointed to see more trees removed than was suggested by the plan, but have been told that for every tree taken out 7 or more will be planted. Some of the removals were probably necessary to accommodate better access for everyone. The steps and ramp are to go, with the ground built up to the level of the foyer. 
2. Baumgart Clarke Architects have been appointed for the interior design and “connection” if any, to the Library. We will watch this carefully, and believe we will be consulted. Their brief is fairly broad and vague – to activate the site, make it available for large-scale events, opening asap (possibly by end of year or early next). Some of the additional material given to the architects was terrible – the worst ideas from the “community consultation” (eg. blocking off the stage and balcony) and building removable, but soundproof partitioning in the main space. So we keep pushing against these costly and silly notions which would seriously affect usage of the main hall.  The Lower Hall is not included in the designated works – so that’s a clear risk, especially if the east side of the site is developed. 
3. Visit Ballarat is keen to use the hall for major events and exhibitions, and wants to start programming for main and Lower Hall now. Hopefully their clout will help.
4. Songways is an new online mapping project to document Ballarat’s live music heritage, with photographs, memories, stories, ephemera. We’d like to ensure that Civic Hall is  particularly well documented. (Material will be photographed etc – you don’t have to donate). Contact Georgina Williams or Deborah Klein, 5320 5643, or email  Georgina Williams on ”         …………  Merle Hathaway

The Turning of the 1st sod on the Civic Hall Plaza
Mayor Samantha McIntosh turned the 1st sod on the Civic Hall Plaza Landscaping Development at the end of March.  The Tender was awarded to S.H.E.A. and work of the landscaping is progressing and is expected to be completed in August.
                                                        Turning the 1st sod
                                                             S.H.E.A. Won the Tender
Internal Works:
Although the interior restoration plans have yet to be released …..Design services – Council’s website notes that Wendy Jacobs heritage
advisory will be involved – “The next steps will include a comprehensive
internal survey and condition audit (including heritage), the
development of concept designs, and identify possible early works”.
Planned Event for Civic Hall:
Sunday 20TH August is Civic Hall’s 61st Anniversary and there is an event planned.  The details are currently being finalised and will be posted when they become available, so put this date into your diary!….We would love to see you there!  
Mechanics Institute Fund Raiser….Friday May 5th  7.00pm Trivia
Please join us for the fundraiser for the Ballarat Mechanics Institute .  A trivia quiz Trivia featuring the Heritage Photographs of Max Harris.  Entry is $10 .  We hope to be able to get enough people to form a table of Save Civic hall supporters.  if you would like to join us please phone Judith 5335 6290 before 1st May.  You can also purchase tickets at the Mechanics Institute Library.
Details are on the following link:
Hope to see you there to support this wonderful Ballarat iconic building!

Civic Hall could Enhance White Night projections

Photo by Judith Buchanan

White Night:

After experiencing the most incredible event to come to Ballarat it is now time to reflect on what it means for this amazing city.  White Night attracted 40+ thousand people to the city. Guest houses, hotels and motels were booked out.  Cafes and restaurants reported their best ever trade.  The projections and entertainment were magnificent.  We can be proud of our local artists and performers who really gave their best and put on outstanding shows and performances.  The enormous  crowd soaked up the  atmosphere of the massive street party and entertainment……we marveled at White Night.  Please come back next year!

The Civic Hall looked splendid with her facade and sides lit up as they do every night since the restoration of her facade.   People  admired her as they walked to and from their cars on route to  Lydiard St.   If  White Night should return, The Civic Hall could be lit up with projections and be a beacon of welcome from the Creswick Road entry to the city.  After all Civic Hall featured in the very first Laser Kinetics show in Victoria.  What a spectacle it would be!

In 1984 the Civic Hall was the canvas for the very first Laser Kinetics Supershow in Victoria by pioneer Joseph Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski, known for his ground breaking works in Chromasonics, Laser Kinetics and sound and image productions.  His show formed part of the Begonia Festival celebrations.

Photo by Judith Buchanan

The Future of Civic Hall:

Council now has to consider Tenders for the restoration of the interior of the main hall and landscaping of the Plaza and Western side.   Save Civic Hall supports the Council’s application for funding of $4 million to the Federal Government  for  the implementation of the necessary works.  However we do not support any loss of its heritage and functional  features such as  the stage, balcony, dress circle and flytower.  Nor do we support demolition of part of the Lower Civic Hall.  We support the restoration of the hall in its entirety and its original use as a venue for community events and performance.

With the amount of festivals and events growing the need for a large public hall has never been greater.   With 40,000+ people attending White Night it is a no brainer! 

Photo by Judith Buchanan

Historical Documents of events now available through FOI:

Documents have just become available through Freedom of Information,  giving us a picture of the type of community  events and attendance numbers for 1995-98.  a picture emerges indicating that it was a thriving venue.  

Civic Hall Lights up and Tenders are called


Things are a lot brighter for the Civic Hall in more ways than one!

Tenders for works on Civic Hall:

Council has called for Design Services Tenders for the redevelopment of the Civic Hall.  This Tender closes on February 22 2017.

Tenders were also called for the Landscaping on the Doveton St side.  This Tender has now closed on February 8 2017   A car park has now been established on the Armstrong St side of the Civic Hall


Mood Lighting:

On December 17 the Civic Hall lit up for the first time in more than 15 years with beautiful mood lighting on the newly restored front facade and east and west sides.  If you have not seen it yet, take a walk or drive to the Civic Hall Site as it gets dark and watch it light up.  It looks spectacular!  After years of debate and angst, Civic Hall is finally being given the face lift it needs  to bring it into the 21st Century.  The work has really just begun, the interior is next…. it is a great start!

CEO Justine Linley, Mayor Samantha McIntosh. Councillors Rinaldi and Coates and  also members of the Save Civic Hall Group were present  to witness this monumental event on Dec 17 2016.

Heritage Victoria Appeal Hearing February 10, 2017:

In 2015 The Art Deco and Modernism Society of Australia nominated the Civic Hall to be added to the State Heritage Register for protection.  The Save Civic Hall group appealed the decision by the Executive Director not to add the building to the Heritage Register for State Listing.

The appeal was heard in Ballarat yesterday February 10.  The Executive Director agreed that the building has great social and cultural significance .  They also agreed with some of our arguments to have the building listed.  The Civic Hall is unique as it is the only “Stand Alone” civic hall of the Post WW2 era  in the State of Victoria  (maybe Australia?….research is continuing).  The Executive Director agreed that its size was monumental and no others compare.

The Executive Director also  agreed that the Civic Hall is rare.   Our research revealed that the Ballarat Civic Hall is a precursor to the later 1980’s Performing Arts Centres.   We have not found another example of an early pre-1960’s Stand Alone, mult-purpose events and performing arts venue in Victoria.    All others had Municipal offices attached or were part of a complex of municipal buildings.  We will have to wait for around 8 weeks for the Results of the hearing .

Watch this space!