Her Majesty’s Ballarat will re-open on Friday 13 September for the Royal South Street Society’s prestigious Aria competition.
Established in 1924, the Aria event – Australia’s oldest and most renowned prize for emerging classical singers – will be the first event to return to the restored historic raked stage at Her Majesty’s Ballarat since the theatre was closed for extensive restorations in late 2017.
The Aria event at Her Majesty’s has launched the international careers of many renowned singers including Dame Malvina Major, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Jonathon Summers, Judith Henley, Roger Lemke, Jason Wasley and Rachelle Durkin.
The City of Ballarat delivered an unprecedented level of investment, with $5.3 million allocated in its 2018-2019 budget, into restorative works at Her Majesty’s Ballarat as soon as the safety issue was identified in 2017. These works have been supported by a $2 million grant under the Victorian Government’s Living Heritage Program.
The restorative works have been a collaborative project. Ballarat contractor AW Nicholson and its sub-contractors, plus heritage architect Lovell Chen and the City of Ballarat’s Major Projects and Her Majesty’s Ballarat teams have worked tirelessly to deliver the project on-time to the City of Ballarat.
Following the final checks of the facility, practical completion of the project took place on Friday 27 July. Now, City of Ballarat staff are embarking on the painstaking and major task of cleaning the theatre and re-establishing the technical and operational equipment. The works to reinstate all of the stage equipment alone, which include more than 1,000 elements, will take more than a month to complete.
The City of Ballarat, Her Majesty’s Ballarat Board, Royal South Street Society Board and management have worked closely together throughout this project. Together, they considered from an early stage that an alternative venue was likely to be needed for the first few disciplines of the eisteddfod.
While the venue is being prepared with the re-installation and testing of extensive and complex sound and lighting equipment, Royal South Street Society has decided to once again locate the Freemasons Festival of Bands and Strings at the Founders Theatre at Federation University’s Mount Helen campus. The Victorian Band Championships and Choral Competition will also be held at Founders Theatre in August.
Royal South Street Society Chief Executive Officer Brett Macdonald says Royal South Street Society will bump in to Her Majesty’s Ballarat to begin setting up its offices and administration in mid-August.
“We would like to thank the City of Ballarat for its outstanding work to deliver the theatre back in time for the Aria competition,” he says.
“We would also like to thank City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh, Councillors and officers for their ongoing care and concern for our competition and with their agreement to support us with a strategic partnership grant of $240,000 for four years in addition to the $5.3 million City of Ballarat investment.
“The City of Ballarat has provided continued leadership and advocacy in working to secure the future of this irreplaceable building.
“We would also like to thank Ballarat contractor AW Nicholson Pty Ltd for delivering on-time what has been a complex project involving an unpredictable, historic 144-year-old building.
“We look forward to welcoming the community to see our competition shine on the stage of Her Majesty’s Ballarat this year.”
The City of Ballarat has received a Victorian Government commitment of $10 million for the next stage of works and is still campaigning for the additional $5 million of federal funding needed to achieve more of the works identified in the vision for the theatre and complete a greater degree of safety and accessibility works.
“As a flagship cultural institution at the heart of our Creative City Strategy, Her Majesty’s is also a vital contributor to our visitor economy,” City of Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh says.
“We are working towards making Her Majesty’s stronger and able to deliver an even more accessible and enjoyable performing arts experience for our residents, performers and patrons.”