Redevelopment Project Update 10-08-17
Here's the second installment of our weekly WGAC Redevelopment Update videos. In this episode we show you a part of the building you don't always see, and how the changes will make WGAC a more attractive option for large touring productions - giving you more entertainment choices and cementing West Gippsland Arts Centre's place as the Centre of choice in Gippsland!
Honour the past : Serve the present : Inspire the future
Redevelopment Project Update 03-08-17
Here's the first of our WGAC Redevelopment Update and Walk-through videos, keeping you up-to-date with the status of the works. Manager of Arts and Culture, Rob Robson is joined by Project Manager Tristan Hennessy on Today's tour. Let us know what you think below!
Honour the past : Serve the present : Inspire the future
This project will honour the commitment and investment of all those behind the arts centre’s conception and growth over the last 30 years, by ensuring it will continue to be a leading regional arts centre for the next 30 years and more.
It will serve our community right now to enable it to better provide entertainment, stimulation, excitement, a point of social gathering, a place for families to share experiences, for children to take their first bow and for the community to share in the world of touring performing arts enjoyed by Australians in cities and towns elsewhere.
It will respond to the growth of our local population, to help ensure we remain a vibrant and liveable place.
It will strengthen our capacity to be a strong centre for the creative industries and will provide job opportunities both directly and indirectly as it serves to stimulate the local economy, and bring visitors and tourists..
The West Gippsland Arts Centre Upgrade works are now in the fourth month of the sixteen month project and as winter sets in we are seeing solid progress on the site. Most works so far have been to demolish some parts and underpin other parts of the existing building in preparation for extensions to foyers and the new café structure which will look out over Civic Park. Up to now, the key jobs seem to be about pulling things down rather than building new and we really look forward to spring when the upgrade will start to take shape.
Still, the removal of the disused Community Assets building (former Warragul library), which so badly blocked the Arts Centre building, has been quite a transformation already and the open space it creates will be a huge asset in making the new building much more inviting. We are sure it will provide a great new gathering and open air performance space.
The mature Pin Oak and European trees outside the Arts Centre building and the native trees along the northern boundary of the WGAC car park are being protected and will be integrated into the forecourt design.
The roof of the southern and eastern foyer (the old Parkview room areas) and the eastern brick wall have been removed making way for the construction of the new upper level foyers above. Construction of the northern foyer, which will bring the audience into the auditorium from the opposite side to the existing main entry, has commenced.
Most exciting, a working platform is being constructed in the auditorium to enable the existing steel lighting bridges to be removed and the construction of the new seating balcony to commence.
Meanwhile plumbers have been digging new drainage lines, electricians are installing miles of cabling and the existing floors are all well propped to support the heavy machinery working on floors above.
Civic Place is now closed down to a one-way north bound traffic lane with 40km/h speed restrictions. Entry to Civic Park is now from Albert Street with the exit at Smith Street. Access to the Civic Park toilets remains open.
Watch this video for an overview of the project.
History of West Gippsland Arts Centre
West Gippsland Arts Centre (WGAC) was built in 1982 to provide a regional performing arts centre for the people of Gippsland. The project was inspired by local activists and supported strongly by the Hamer state government.
The project cost $4.5 million at the time and was jointly funded by Local and State Governments as well as receiving $450,000 in local contributions through community fundraising.
The original plan was for a venue of 750 – 800 seats, with a balcony and stalls seating. It was also intended to have a mechanised fore-stage platform. Budget shortfalls caused by building delays led to the balcony seating and mechanised stage lift being cut from the design, reducing
seating capacity to 490.
However, the very high quality and well equipped stage infrastructure was defended from cuts and even today WGAC still boasts one of the very best stage facilities in all Victoria.
The Arts Centre provides our community with entertainment, stimulation, excitement, a point of social gathering, a place for families to share experiences, for children to take their first bow, and for the community to see the world of touring performing arts shared by Australians in cities and towns elsewhere.
The West Gippsland Regional Arts Centre (WGRAC) upgrade project honours the efforts of the original founders and workers, and aims to ‘get the job finished’. The aim is to finally achieve the original vision for this important regional facility.
In 2012, Council engaged Williams Ross Architects to undertake a master-planning exercise to determine possible future development of WGAC.
Their overview showed the building itself was very well designed and had ‘excellent bones’ but, at 30 plus years of age, was in need of major refurbishment if it was going to continue to serve the community in the future.
Reasons for Redevelopment
Seating and public amenities were in poor condition and staff areas were inadequate for the needs of such an actively used building.
The original aim of the building, to have 750 – 800 seats would enable far better use to be made of the very good stage, which has the ability to present much larger shows than the current limited audience capacity of 490 seats can attract. This also significantly improves the economic sustainability of the centre and thus its ability to support subsidised community use.
The architects highlighted significant issues around compliance with contemporary building accessibility codes.
They also noted that changes made in the year 2000 had obscured the point of arrival and caused internal areas such as the foyers and auditorium entrances to be congested.
The upgrade project is now underway.
The upgrade project aims to:
Honour the commitment and investment of all those who have been behind the success of West Gippsland Arts Centre over the past 30 plus years, by bringing the original and future visions for the Arts Centre into being.
Support and enable the people of the community right now; both those who currently use the facility and those who may use it in the future.
Respond to the rapid growth of our local population by closing the asset renewal gap, and extending the life and maintaining the standard of the Arts Centre building.
Be a community asset that helps shape the kind of community we want to be in the future.
Serve our future needs as a community and provide job opportunities both directly and indirectly as it serves to stimulate the local economy, bring visitors and tourists.
- Improved accessibility at all levels.
- Improved seating capacity and economic sustainability.
- Improved connection to active public spaces.
- Improved ability to offer other services such as conferences, exhibitions, meetings, and visitor information and event and attraction bookings