Library to take over Civic Hall?

ch master
In shocking news, Council has revealed its preferred option – to demolish most of the Lower Hall, extending the nearby Library through, taking over the whole of the remaining building. This plan has never been put to the public before, despite the long, expensive “community participatory design process”.
On Wednesday 27 April Council votes on a motion to adopt one of 3 final options. For full details and plans, see Council’s Agenda on

You can ask questions without notice, and also make a 3-5 minute submission (ring Council 5320 5500 before 4.30pm to book in.)

Council’s 3 choices are:
  • Option 1 retains the Civic Hall as a multi-purpose space for festivals, events, bands, balls, exhibitions etc. This is the only one to retain the west side park.
  • Option 2 sells off the current Library to developers, and  the Library takes over the Civic Hall with an additional building to the west.
  • In the preferred Option 3 the current Library is linked to the Civic Hall through a demolished Lower Hall.  The Civic Hall  foyer is blocked off for other uses, and the stage, dressing rooms and fly tower are all gone, leaving only the centre part of the main space as a massive reading room.
In the Agenda there’s a very fanciful image  showing the main hall with people in lounge chairs looking through what was the stage to the new entrance building. Can you imagine the cost of heating this huge space on a daily basis?
The public clearly said in so many of the 3,000+ submissions opposing demolition that they wanted the Civic Hall re-opened and re-used for the purpose it was designed. It still is the region’s only large flat-floored venue. It’s unique and would not take a lot of work to repair and improve further.
With Ballarat’s increasing population, we will need more large venues like this.
Option 3 is a mishmash of incoherent ideas. Of course the Library needs to expand, but into appropriate, purpose-built spaces. It’s especially unsuitable to put it into the cavernous spaces of the main hall.
There’s a suggestion that what’s left of the main space could be used for events.  Even if you could clear the lounges etc, what’s left of the main space has no stage, dressing rooms or other performance facilities. Making it quite unsuitable for anything much.
Hard to see this as anything other than a cynical exercise in ticking off on “community use” to put the Library into the Civic Hall.
The community deserves better!
ch master 2

About Merle Hathaway

I am currently Secretary of Save Civic Hall and the co-ordinator of Communications and Media. When not volunteering for SCH, I am a freelance arts administrator, curator and jack of all trades to do with promoting and supporting the arts.