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.
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.
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.
Council will decide at their next Council meeting whether to fund a community-focussed participatory design process to take place at the Civic Hall in an “open door studio”.
After years of stale-mate and dissent, and much community consultation – which Council has largely ignored – this new process aims to produce 3 fully fleshed out plans.
The process should start in a month or so and will involve artists, architecture students, the general community – including children, and the stakeholders of the Civic Hall and its site. The emphasis will be on finding consensus.
Guiding the whole process will be a stakeholder advisory committee which should represent a wide range of views on the future of the Civic Hall and its site. It is expected that members of SCH will be part of this group.
Save Civic Hall will support and actively promote this so long as the process and overarching stakeholder committee is not seen as biased towards demolition or other unsuitable, especially non-community, uses of the Civic Hall.
Save Civic Hall is encouraging Council to include representatives from the arts, health and community based interest groups.