Concerns over Civic Hall Community Design Process –

Media Release of 4th February 2015

The grass roots community group, Save Civic Hall, has been quiet for some time, but things might be changing!

Since February last year members of the group have met regularly with City of Ballarat CEO, Mr Anthony Schinck and by September he had agreed in writing to specific actions to resolve the stalemate.

In return Save Civic Hall agreed to fully support Council’s new community design process, which should once and for all establish the future of the hall and the entire site.

Save Civic Hall is now frustrated by Council’s lack of action agreed to by the CEO and the apparent blocking of the process.

In November 2014 the Open Door Studio was opened by the Mayor in the refurbished foyer of the Civic Hall, with Here Studio appointed by Council to lead the process.

By November 2015 three final concepts are to be developed through community participation, assisted by Here Studio’s core team of artists, architects and other experts. Councillors then will vote on the final design. A special celebratory event is supposed to be held in the Hall to mark each stage of the process.

In its meetings with the CEO, Save Civic Hall was assured that the process would be held at “arms length” from Council, with no interference, and that the hall would be cleaned, with basic repairs. Council was to produce a dedicated edition of “My Ballarat” to ensure that the Ballarat community understood the process and was encouraged to participate. Mr Schinck also stated many times that he would like the hall open to the public as soon as possible. Then community and other activities could take place there as required.

The first sign that all was not going to plan was at the launch of the Open Door Studio when Council failed even to wash, let alone repair, the entrance steps or collect broken glass and other debris in the area to ensure safe public access.

The main hall still has not been vacuumed and is now sealed off with permanent glass walls. Council wants the community to believe that this building is beyond repair though several expert reports commissioned by Council show this is not true.

SCH is also concerned at what appears to be blocking of the Open Door process by Council officers. The occupancy permit of the foyer has now been changed to “office


use” with a limit of 10 people! And Here Studio’s ability to appoint the local artists and other experts required has been thwarted by Council’s insistence that the process go through them. Local artists have been discouraged from applying by a lengthy process and necessity for expensive private professional indemnity insurance.

A Partnership Group was formed to support the process, with representation from Councillors, Committee for Ballarat, Save Civic Hall and Here Studio. To date this group has also been unable to resolve these issues.

There appears to be no will or direction from this Council to ensure the success of this process by informing the community or presenting the Hall in its best possible light. Cynics may suggest that this is far from accidental and that in some circles the decision on the future of the Civic Hall has already been made.



On a lighter note we had a great day at Masters Home improvement Centre  at Wendouree.  The snags were hot and the drinks were cold…just right for the hot weather.  A big thank you to the Masters staff who made us very welcome and to the shoppers who supported us.  It was encouraging to meet lots of new supporters of The Civic Hall .  We managed to raise some much needed funds to continue our campaign to Save Ballarat Civic Hall!  Thank you to everyone who helped out and made the day a success!!



The Save Civic Hall Sausage Sizzle


The big boys cooking up the big snags….mmmm  delicious!!!!


This Friday celebrates World Radio Day and presenter Alan Steinman from 99.9 Voice FM Community Radio will be dedicating his 3 hour program to The Civic Hall.  Our own Judith Buchanan will be joining him for the full 3 hours discussing  the Performers of The Civic Hall and playing lots of music from those artists.  Also joining them will be other guests discussing the current  issues surrounding the Civic Hall.  The  Architectural and Historical significance of the Civic Hall will also be a hot topic up for discussion by guests who are experts in their field .

Tune in to 99.9 FM on your dial at 9.00am until Noon…if you are not near a radio you can get  streaming on your computer by downloading the App and listen to 99.9 VoiceFM Community Radio anytime and catch the program.   Just copy and paste this link into your browser:


The Community Design Process is continuing in the Foyer of the Civic Hall and the outcome relies on your participation…so if you haven’t visited the Open Door Studio yet please visit and put your ideas forward.  The first phase of the process will end soon and it is vital that all your ideas are gathered for the actual design phase of the process.  Multiple visits are quite acceptable.  If you have not been there yet, please make the effort as it is well worth seeing all the memorabilia that is on show and Ammon, Michelle and the team would love to talk to you.   The future of the Civic Hall relies on YOU!

You can sign up for a free weekly newsletter at :  or call into the Foyer and pick up a hard copy.

The Open Door Studio hours of business are as follows:




I am pleased to announce that The Art Deco Walks will be on offer again at this years  Heritage Weekend on the 9th and 10th of May 2015.  The walks will be led by Robin Grow, the president of The Art Deco and Modernism Society of Australia.  The Art Deco Walks were extremely popular last year and are back by popular demand.  More details will become available as the organisers prepare the program for 2015.

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The 2014 Art Deco Walks commenced at the Civic Hall


Did you know that as well as the Civic Hall, architect  Herbert Leslie Coburn designed many exquisite Art Deco buildings around Ballarat and throughout Victoria?   He was also a long standing councillor of 14 years and was Mayor in 1945/46 during World War 2.