All posts by Merle Hathaway

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.

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

New Era for Civic Hall

Stage One has at last begun at the Civic Hall, with cleaning and repairs to the facade, and tenders out for landscaping of the entrance and west sides, and new mood lighting to be installed soon. The new CEO, Justine Linley, also appears supportive of simple, commonsense resolution of the 14 years of inaction. As the community has asked for since closure in 2002.

Checks for the new work has confirmed that the building is in excellent condition, with no major structural or other problems.

All of this creates great hope for a positive future for the Hall. A new Council has just been elected, and it is  led by a Mayor who has always strongly supported the retention and reopening of the Civic Hall as a jewell in the crown of the CBD.

Many of the new Councillors have declared their support for retention and reopening of the Civic Hall, and the new Mayor, Cr Samantha McIntosh has been its champion for years, inspired by what was achieved at Heidelberg Town Hall.

WIN TV interviewed some members of Save Civic Hall for tonight’s News.

Civic Hall 60th Anniversary

The Civic Hall 60th Celebrations unfortunately could not be held inside the grand old hall as repairs are to start soon. However, luckily the rain held off while we followed Beaufort Brass Band from the Town Hall to the front of the Civic Hall where two Mayors addressed the crowd.

Beaufort Brass Band with additional members from Ballarat & Creswick bands lead the march from the Town Hall to the Civic Hall.
Beaufort Brass Band with additional members from Ballarat & Creswick bands led the march from the Town Hall to the Civic Hall.

Town Criers march

 

 

 

 

 

On the steps of the Civic Hall The 1956 Mayor Nathaniel Callow (alias Hedley Thomson) delivered the original, now poignant speech, and today’s Mayor Des Hudson responded, similarly predicting a fine future for the Civic Hall. He acknowledged the role Save Civic Hall played in saving the Hall from demolition. Ballarat’s Town Crier, Brian Whykes, played an important role throughout the day, calling people to order – his voice has hardly lost a decibel over the years! Brian hosted the World Championship of Town Criers at the Civic Hall in 1995, and has been 5 times World Champion.

1956 Mayor Nathaniel Callow (Hedley Thomson), watched by 2016 Mayor Des Hudson, to his left, and Town Crier Brian Whykes on right, and other members of the Australasian Guild of Town Criers.
1956 Mayor Nathaniel Callow (Hedley Thomson) watched by 2016 Mayor Des Hudson and Town Crier Brian Whykes  & members of the Australasian Guild of Town Criers.
Beaufort Brass Band performed items played at the original opening – and we all stood up for “God Save the Queen”. That was strangely moving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Trades Hall a number of performers and speakers informed and entertained.  Ballarat Ukulele Kollective started the afternoon, followed by historian Anne Beggs-Sunter. Brett Edgington, Trades Hall Secretary, showed his fine talent for off-the-cuff, stirring delivery. He was a technician at the Civic Hall and spoke of setting up for groups such as Circus Oz, and how the Hall was still needed today

Boat Chorus improvised on the history of the Civic Hall, a talk by historian Dr Anne Beggs-Sunter.
Boat Chorus improvised on the history of the Civic Hall, a talk by historian Dr Anne Beggs-Sunter.
Brett Edgington, Trades Hall Secretary, spoke passionately and eloquently, warning that we easily lose public spaces such as parks and halls if we are not vigilant.
Brett Edgington, Trades Hall Secretary, spoke passionately and eloquently, warning that we easily lose public spaces such as parks and halls if we are not vigilant.

 

 

The Funky Turtles is a Recreation & Social Support Program for young adults with a disability living in Ballarat. It is under the auspices of Pinarc Support Services,
The Funky Turtles is a Recreation & Social Support Program for young adults with a disability living in Ballarat. It is under the auspices of Pinarc Support Services.

 

"Mayor Callow" cuts the cake, assisted by Ballarat Ukulele Kollective members, Vicki Maree Barnett & Gary Mann, and watched by Koby Bunny (who also live-streamed much of the event.)
“Mayor Callow” cuts the cake, assisted by Ballarat Ukulele Kollective members, Vicki Maree Barnett & Gary Mann, and watched by Koby Bunny (who also live-streamed much of the event.)

At the Trades Hall a number of performers and speakers informed and entertained.  Ballarat Ukulele Kollective started the afternoon, followed by historian Anne Beggs-Sunter. Brett Edgington, Trades Hall Secretary, showed his fine talent for off-the-cuff, stirring delivery. He was a technician at the Civic Hall and spoke of setting up for groups such as Circus Oz, and how the Hall was still needed today

It was a great afternoon. Save Civic Hall thanks all who came, and all those who spoke and performed. We look forward to the next major celebration being INSIDE a restored and fully functioning Civic Hall!!

 

Library to take over Civic Hall?

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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 www.ballarat.vic.gov.au

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!
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Ballarat Arts Alive concern for Civic Hall

Ballarat Arts Alive is the key body representing artists and arts people of Ballarat and district.

Today it released a BAA open letter Civic Hall concerns. This expresses its opposition to recent proposals which would seriously impact on future usage and viability of the Civic Hall.

The latest plans include immediate blocking off the stage and dressing rooms, green rooms etc, irreversibly changing the foyer by adding a kitchen and pseudo Art Deco spiral staircase, and dividing the balcony in to four sections to make tiny theatrettes.

Major professional arts organisations have also expressed concern for these aspects.

Ballarat Arts Alive has found no support in the general or arts community for the above changes, which would also seriously impact on the integrity of the 1956 architecture.

Read all about it!

 

The People’s Hall: Civic Hall from early concepts to future possibilities

The Peoples Hall FBT

Put it in your diary now! This exhibition traces the Civic Hall from the massive predecessor halls (Alfred and Coliseum) through its design and construction to its heyday when it was the key place for community, civic, and commercial celebrations and events.

The exhibition opens at Backspace Gallery, Alfred Deakin Place (behind the Art Gallery of Ballarat) on 4 June and runs till 21 June.

Gallery hours are 12 – 4pm, Thursdays to Sundays.

It will be a great show, with spectacular historical items, costumes, artworks, cartoons, videos and soundtracks from some of the great bands that performed there.

Entry is free and everyone is welcome!

Courier reports secret deals

Unbelievable news in today’s Courier.

http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3000218/ballarat-mayors-plan-to-drain-civic-hall-funds/?cs=62

Hard to believe that this Council has formally approved the community design process that will determine the future of the whole site of the Civic Hall, but is now engaged in underhand deals to remove its funding.

 

Main Hall open soon

DSCN1112

Great news today! Council has approved opening the main part of the Civic Hall from the evening of 24 April to Sunday 26 April to celebrate the end of stage 1 of the Design Process. This has not been open to the public since the tours of 2012 and currently can only be viewed through glass from the foyer.

The 10 themes or main concepts which have been developed over the past few months will be displayed INSIDE the main space of the Civic Hall.   The next stage involves developing and modifying these concepts.

Two weeks after the launch the Civic Hall will be open for public tours during Heritage Weekend, 9 & 10 May.   Watch this space for times!

Civic Hall doors to open soon!

Council has now voted unanimously to support a community design process at the Civic Hall! This will be the first time that many people have had a chance to view the hall.

The people of Ballarat will be encouraged to contribute design ideas and assist in making models and drawing up plans for the future of the long-disputed Civic Hall.

The “Open Door Studio” will be launched in the foyer of the Civic Hall with an exhibition of all previously submitted plans. At the Studio the community will be assisted in producing a number of concepts, whittling these down over time and by consensus until only three remain. Then Councillors will vote on one design for the Civic Hall and its site.

This process is quite new to Ballarat and it  puts the onus on the community to get involved in shaping the future for the Civic Hall. Councillor representation on a reference panel to support the participatory process will ensure a more informed view of the community’s wishes, and assist them make their ultimate decision.

A clean up of the building has started soon so that the foyer can be used for the “Open Door Studio” workshops. This has included air quality tests and reinstating of fire and other safety equipment.

Initially the main space may be only viewable, but it is intended that as much as possible of the main hall will be accessible again in the coming months.

Save Civic Hall encourages everyone in the community to get involved in what should be an exciting outcome for the people of Ballarat and district.

Happy Birthday Civic Hall!

Help us celebrate the Civic Hall’s 58th birthday with a fundraising film at the Regent on Wednesday 20 August at 6.30pm.

Hundred Foot Journey poster

“The Hundred Foot Journey” is a great film starring Helen Mirrin about an Indian family that moves to France to set up a restaurant.

Tickets are $15 and the profits go towards either VCAT action to prevent demolition, or, if this is not necessary we’ll fund a celebratory community event there.

Tickets from SCH committee members. Ring Zero419324042

Stars of film