Updated closure information

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 and venue closure

Current: 12 June 2020

Arts Centre Melbourne is busy delivering a program of critical asset maintenance as part of the Victorian Government’s $40 million investment for infrastructure upgrades in the much-loved Theatres Building.

Our growing and increasingly diverse audiences will continue experiencing state-of-the-art venues and technology, and more flexible and efficient spaces for performances, with performers and crew delivering work of outstanding quality in a safer environment.

With approximately 1,500 performance events each year, the funding has begun major improvements to our back-stage infrastructure. This includes replacing the State Theatre Flying System, essential to the staging of 200 State Theatre performances annually. Security systems and other core infrastructure will also be up graded.

This project represents the first major component of the Victorian Government’s vision to transform the Melbourne Arts Precinct in the context of our broader plans to reimagine Arts Centre Melbourne for a new generation.

Our buildings are over 35 years old and much of the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that supports the presentation of the onstage magic no longer meets the standards and technical complexities that contemporary presenters and audiences now expect.

Being able to meet the expectations of companies like Opera Australia, Melbourne Theatre Company and The Australian Ballet and with infrastructure free of risk of failure is absolutely critical to ensuring they can deliver work of excellence with consistency and confidence.

The State Theatre Flying System is a critical piece of infrastructure that stores large props, material and set pieces above the stage, allowing it to be flown in and out as scenes change.

After many months of design and planning with our manufacturing and installation partner, Austria’s Waagner Biro, early works have been underway within the State Theatre since early 2020 to prepare for the decommissioning of the existing system and replacement, which will commence in September 2020.

While COVID-19 has impacted the entire Australian performing arts industry, our timelines remain on track for these critical works to the State Theatre.

The theatre will remain closed until April 2021.

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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