$20 million in funding is required to bring Her Majesty’s up to current standards; $5.3 million has been committed by Ballarat City Council in its 2018/19 budget.
Council is lobbying both State and Federal Governments for an additional $15 million dollars to deliver on the recommendations of the Her Majesty’s Ballarat Conservation Management Plan and Feasibility Study.
- Restoration of all walls, ceilings and floors within the 1898 auditorium to near original condition
- Installation of front-of-house lift to all levels for improved disability access to meet current building and Disability Discrimination Act codes
- Orchestra pit automation to remove manual handling issues
- Creation of large-capacity dressing room(s) to better service high-capacity users such as Royal South Street competitions
- Foyer spaces extension and improvement
- Climate control system upgrades
- Installation of backstage passenger lift and accessible facilities to allow access for performers with disabilities and to meet Disability Discrimination Act code
- Height increase and automation of flying system to remove manual handling issues and improve operation
- Securing of original roof trusses and reinforcement and replacement of stage to meet industry standards.
We must complete works which better enable this significant 19th Century theatre to meet the performance and safety standards of a 21st Century theatre. A complete refurbishment of back-of-house, and stage areas is necessary to enable the continued safe and functional operation of the theatre and allow for the continuation of world-class performances into the future.
Yes. Emergency restoration works are being undertaken now with the help of a $2 million grant from Heritage Victoria and the budget allocation of $5.3 million by the City of Ballarat. These works would allow Her Majesty’s to be reopened, however they do not guarantee the future of the theatre for the next 143 years.
City of Ballarat is calling for $15 million in State and Federal Government funding to allow the next part of works – which are desperately needed to keep this beautiful theatre safe and operating for future generations – to be undertaken.
The current works are expected to be complete by February 2019.
The last major renovation and restoration works were carried out at Her Majesty’s between 1987 and 1990 after ownership of the theatre transferred from the Royal South Street Society to the City of Ballarat.
The City undertook a major renovation, upgrades and repairs including restoration of the building to ‘heritage authenticity’, with funding from a wide range of businesses, individuals, organisations and government.
The auditorium floor was replaced in 2000, the auditorium seating was replaced and reconfigured in 2016, with new carpet in all areas.
The full extent of the work required was not known until the restoration works currently being undertaken began. Upon inspection of the Theatre by an engineer in preparation for the current works, a crack in one of the roof trusses was identified and required immediate remediation. This was undertaken and was accepted as a temporary solution pending fuller investigation once access to the remaining trusses could be achieved.
Once the current Heritage Victoria-funded project was underway it was also determined that a full review of the current fire safety measures and development of a fire safety strategy was necessary. This has identified the works required to provide adequate fire safety for the building.
In order to scaffold the stage to fix the roof trusses, the stage loading capability needed to be confirmed, with a specialist engineering company determining that the stage could currently only take a point load of 220kg per sqm. This compares with an average industry stage capacity of 750kgpsqm. This issue has resulted in the stage needing to be reinforced not only to load the stage with scaffold but also to take the weight of often significant stage sets and props and a large quantity of cast and crew. Council acted immediately to secure funding for this, and limited access to the stage.
Heritage Victoria is aware of the issues and is working with the project management team to work through them. However, the $2 million Heritage Victoria grant alone will not cover the cost required to remediate the works intended and required.
Council has acted immediately and included $5.3 million dollars in the 2018/19 budget to make the venue safe and accessible. In addition to structural works on the roof and stage, works include updating the foyer of the theatre, providing access to toilets on the Dress Circle level, a passenger lift capable of taking patrons to the Dress Circle, upgrades to the Long Room and lower level bathrooms, auditorium works including plastering and painting, balustrade remediation at Balcony and Dress Circle levels, and allocation of disabled seating at Dress Circle level.
The works will secure the future of this much-loved 143-year old theatre which is the cultural heart of our vibrant and creative city. Locals will continue to benefit, enjoying a diverse breadth of experiences at the theatre, knowing it will be here for future generations of performers and patrons alike. The Theatre contributes to local businesses and is a key feature that is valued by new residents.