Federal Member for Ballarat Catherine King toured Her Majesty’s Ballarat last week, inspecting stage one restorative works of the 144-year-old performing arts landmark.
Stage one emergency restorative works began on the theatre in early 2018. The Her Majesty’s Ballarat works are supported by a $2 million grant under the Victorian Government’s Living Heritage Program. The City of Ballarat has also funded the works, allocating $5.3 million in its 2018-2019 budget.
The Ballarat and wider performing arts community has rallied to throw its support behind the project, with the Royal South Street Society launching a Change.org petition, which has now reached more than 2,200 signatures.
Earlier this month, steel trusses were lifted via crane into Her Majesty’s Ballarat to strengthen the roof of the landmark, which is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
As part of the first stage of works, the historic raked stage has been reconstructed, allowing works above and below to progress at the same time. Birdcage scaffold on the completed stage has provided access to the roof trusses.
Works are also underway to:
rebuild the new dressing rooms under the stage
carry out solid and decorative plaster repairs and painting conservation works in the Auditorium
rebuild internal copper guttering and localised roof sheeting replacement above the Long Room
progress damp remediation works, with all render removed and the salt removal process almost completed. Deep pointing will then seal out moisture and a new render application will begin
carry out service renewal works for fire and emergency lighting.
The first stage of the project is intended to be completed in time for the opening of the 2019 Royal South Street Society’s competition. The theatre will close again for stage two works in early 2020 – to undertake the majority of the restorative works – however the City of Ballarat remains short of its targeted budget to breathe new life into Her Majesty’s Ballarat.
The City of Ballarat last year launched the Save Her Majesty’s Ballarat – The Time Is Now campaign.
The campaign called on the Victorian and Australian Governments to provide the additional $15 million required for the next, second stage of works, to secure the future of Ballarat’s foremost performing arts venue.
The Victorian Government committed $10 million in last year’s election campaign.
The Save Her Majesty’s Ballarat – The Time Is Now campaign will fund a range of major works to improve the quality, accessibility and functionality of the theatre, such as adding accessible toilets and accessible seating, upgrading the existing lifts at front and back of house, a new entrance and foyer works, including box office and refreshment bar, signage and display system. These works will also include improvements to the fly systems, dressing rooms and the Long Room.
Walking through the theatre Ms King hit out at the Morrison Government.
“Everyone in Ballarat knows that we need to invest in preserving and upgrading Her Majesty’s Theatre”, she said.
“Her Majesty’s Theatre is mainland Australia’s best preserved and longest running theatre.”
“It is the cultural heart of Ballarat, and it still needs more funding.”
“Each year 75,000 patrons attend the theatre to watch the more than 15,000 performers who take to its stage annually in roughly 300 performances.”
“The recent Building Better Regions grants announcement was a perfect opportunity to fund this project, but disappointingly the Morrison Government looked elsewhere”.