Give more children access to the performing arts.

Redeveloping the gateway to the Melbourne Arts Precinct

At Arts Centre Melbourne, we bring people together for remarkable experiences.

We’re proud to be the gateway to the thriving Melbourne Arts Precinct, home to one of the largest concentrations of cultural and creative organisations, practitioners and institutions in the world.

Together with the Victorian Government, we’re Reimagining Arts Centre Melbourne as a key part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to the Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation – a city-changing project that will cement Melbourne’s unique positioning as Australia’s cultural and creative capital.

We’re committed to the future of the precinct by:

  • enhancing the uniquely Melbourne experience of exploring a diversity of art and creative practice in a singular location
  • ensuring it continues to be a place where Victorians and visitors can experience the world’s best art, music and performance
  • ensuring it continues to be a training ground for our next generation of talent.

What we’re doing

Our vision is to:

  • refurbish our beloved Theatres Building
  • build a new creative hub at 1 City Road
  • create a permanent gallery for the Australian Performing Arts Collection and an expanded Australian Music Vault
  • create new education and rehearsal studios
  • create a Theatres Building western entrance onto a new elevated public realm
  • ensure an environmentally, financially and socially sustainable future for our venues and the broader precinct.


Reimagining: our theatres

We’re working with Melbourne’s NH Architecture and Norway’s Snøhetta to revitalise our Theatres Building, which houses the State Theatre, Playhouse and Fairfax Studio.

This work will be the first major upgrade since the building opened in 1984. While respecting the original heritage architecture of Sir Roy Grounds and interiors of acclaimed designer John Truscott, the upgrades will improve the experience for audiences, artists and production technicians, including:

  • new seating, aisles and wayfinding
  • more inclusive and equitable access for visitors and presenters
  • contemporary rehearsal and dressing rooms
  • state-of-the-art flying system for the State Theatre and Playhouse
  • live-theatre broadcast capability
  • safer, flexible staging and technology.

State Theatre Flying System Replacement

As of 2019, our iconic building is well over 30 years old and much of the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that supports the magic onstage no longer meets contemporary standards.

As part of the Victorian Government’s $40 million investment for infrastructure upgrades we’re now in the final stages of choosing a new flying system, which will require the State Theatre to close between October 2020 and April 2021.

This critical piece of infrastructure literally stores large props, material and set pieces above the stage, allowing it to be flown in and out as scenes change. It’s also essential to the staging of 200 State Theatre performances annually.

We’re working with our incredible Resident Companies and partners to ensure we can continue to deliver remarkable experiences in this stunning heritage theatre for many years to come.

Reimagining: arts learning

The arts encourages creativity, critical thinking and artistic expression. We will:

  • offer expanded spaces for learning programs for students, artists, adults and families
  • increase annual participation numbers in arts learning programs.

Reimagining: access

Diversity and inclusion enriches us all. A reimagined Arts Centre Melbourne will offer:

  • an expanded program of inclusive theatre
  • increased wheelchair positions across all theatres and ticket levels, and dedicated wheelchair lifts
  • a “Changing Places” accessible adult change facility for people with profound disability
  • mobility hubs where audiences can take a break during their visit.

Reimagining: 1 City Road

To complement our existing facilities of Hamer Hall, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the Theatres Building, we’re creating Arts Centre Melbourne’s fourth campus at the adjacent 1 City Road site. It will be a creative hub that features:

  • a new Australian Performing Arts Gallery to display the Australian Performing Arts Collection
  • an expanded Australian Music Vault
  • new flexible and multipurpose studio and workshop spaces for the small-to-medium and independent arts sector.

Public Realm: Melbourne’s new meeting place

Australian architecture practice HASSELL in association with US architects SO-IL were announced in February 2019 as the team to design the public realm: 18,000 square metres of new and renewed pedestrian space that better connects the precinct’s many cultural institutions. The design offers:

  • 18,000 square metres of elevated pedestrian and garden areas, event spaces, restaurants and bars
  • improved amenity for local residents and workers
  • a seamless connection from St Kilda Road to Sturt Street and the surrounding cultural institutions
  • a “goal zero” target: zero operational energy, operational water, waste-to-landfill, emissions.

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