West Gippsland Arts Centre Redevelopment

The region's premier performing arts, cultural and community centre is now re-opened following a major upgrade.

The $14.1 million redevelopment, completed in October 2018, is the largest capital works project ever undertaken by Baw Baw Shire Council.

Among a huge scope of works for this project, the biggest change has been the construction of a new balcony increasing seating capacity from 490 to 750 – finally accommodating the audience number first envisaged for this facility when it was originally built over three decades ago.

Contents


Temporary relocation of customer service

As internal refurbishment works are completed, the Warragul Customer Service Centre has been temporarily relocated to the Annex Building (access via Smith Street). 


Realising the original vision

The WGAC has long provided our community with entertainment, excitement, and a place for people to come together. It’s where families share experiences, children to take their first bow, and where our community gains access to the world of performing arts.

When the West Gippsland Arts Centre was built in 1982, it was planned as a venue of 750 - 800 seats, including a balcony and stalls and mechanised fore-stage platform. At the time, budget shortfalls caused by building delays led to the balcony seating and mechanised stage lift being sacrificed, reducing seating capacity to 490.

The WGAC upgrade project honours the efforts and vision of the original founders and workers, and aims to realise the full potential of this important regional facility. 

Key Upgrades

  • Improved accessibility at all levels.
  • Improved seating capacity and economic sustainability.
  • Improved connection to active public spaces.
  • Improved ability to attract productions, exhibitions, and events.
  • Increased seating capacity (from 510 to 760).
  • A new access foyer to the south side of the auditorium, along with foyers for the rear stalls and balcony seating.
  • Reorienting the centre and café space to take advantage of beautiful view Civic Park views.
  • Achieving Universal Design Principles, with accessible wheelchair spaces, assisted access aisles and an elevator, as well as improved seat spacing—particularly in the new balcony.
  • New meeting spaces for hosting major conferences and meetings.
  • Behind-the-scenes technical improvements to accommodate major, larger scale productions.

The WGAC is back! Community Update 6 - Tuesday 20 November 2018

The West Gippsland Arts Centre was once again a hive of activity and entertainment on Saturday 17 November when the facility officially reopened with an exciting community celebration.

Hundreds of community members came out on a perfect spring day to join in the reopening festivities appropriately themed “Welcome Home”.

Held alongside the Warragul Farmers Market and Arts Market, the festival was alive with roving performers, interactive theatre displays, song and dance performances and guided facility tours for those keen to see the redevelopment in detail.

Gunaikurnai Elder Mr Nicky Moffatt performed a smoking ceremony before the official proceedings commenced. Federal Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent MP attended and spoke on behalf of the Federal Government’s $4 million funding contribution.

Mayor of Baw Baw Shire Cr Mikaela Power spoke on behalf of Baw Baw Shire Council before unveiling the commemorative plaque. Councillors and Mr Broadbent gathered for a ceremonial ribbon cutting to officially declare the facility reopen.

The celebrations were capped off by a free evening performance by the Gippsland Symphony Orchestra in the refurbished auditorium.

The $14.1 million redevelopment is the largest capital works project ever undertaken by Baw Baw Shire Council.

Among a huge scope of works for this project, the biggest change has been the construction of a new balcony increasing seating capacity from 490 to 750 – finally accommodating the audience number first envisaged for this facility when it was originally built over three decades ago.

Find out what’s on at the West Gippsland Arts Centre at www.wgac.com.au


Community Update 5 - Thursday 6 September 2018

With a completion date announce (31 October 2018), we're starting to get excited!

The photos below offer a tantalising taste of what is in store for our community when they come into the newly refurbished West Gippsland Arts Centre.  

Detail of lighting behind the bar in the forecourt

This is the area behind the new theatre bar in the foyer which will open out onto the new forecourt. The use of hardwood in bulkhead and wall features throughout the foyers is a very contemporary touch and references the heritage of Baw Baw Shire as a centre for forestry and hardwood production. The space is flooded with light from the newly reglazed windows above and at night, light will spill out up the wall, bringing the exterior of the building to life.

Detail of exposed brick wall and lighting behind the bar.

This is the wall behind the bar. The existing brick of the original building has been stripped of the old render here to offer a contrasting texture to the wood panels and sandstone tiling on the floors. You can see the shadow ‘prints’ in the brickwork where the doorways which formerly led into the theatre have been filled in. 2 TV Screens will be installed on these walls behind the bar and will be used for a variety of promotional and display purposes.

 Detail of the timber-lined walls and stainless steel handrails.

This picture shows the walls inside the theatre and the new stainless steel handrails that will assist patrons to seats. The theatre will now have doors on both sides of the theatre and patrons will be able to enter via four different doors (two front and two rear) in the ‘downstairs’ area, (and two in the new balcony) making it much easier and safer to get in and out of the theatre, The old rendered brick walls of the theatre have been replaced with timber panels, angled slightly to break up the previously hard, flat surface and to reflect sound back into the audience. This will improve the acoustic quality of the theatre, especially for music. Each panel has a strip of LED lighting along its back edge, and these strips can be set to throw different colours onto the walls, setting a very dramatic and theatrical mood for the audience when they first arrive.

Detail of new lighting bridges in the theatre.

Overhead, two new lighting bridges have been constructed. This offers the theatre technicians a much safer way to access lighting equipment and it will increase the number of lighting positions in the theatre. The bridges have also been lined with curved wood panels, designed to bounce sound back into the audience. This will also improve the acoustics in the theatre. Under the balcony there is a series of small speakers which ensure the audio from the venue’s new sound system is properly distributed up into the new balcony seating.


Community Update 4 - Tuesday 21 November 2017

Progress at the West Gippsland Arts Centre upgrade project has been celebrated with a site visit and walk through tour by Project Reference Group (PRG) members.

Project Manager Tristan Hennesey and Arts Centre Manager Rob Robson, along with the head contractor, Building Engineering’s representative Matthew Behsmann, led the group around the site to see key highlights of works to date.

Recent milestone works have seen large cranes install several new steel framing elements providing structures for the new café, entry foyer, loading dock extension and main steel truss on the eastern side.

The core shaft for the new lift is also taking shape, and when finished will offer much improved accessibility between all levels of the building.

Some new areas are now roofed and windows are beginning to be installed. New wiring, air ducting, plumbing and new fire sprinkler systems throughout are also very evident at this stage.

High level work in the auditorium in readiness for the next stage of installation of the balcony seating area was a highlight of the tour.

The transformation of the iconic Warragul landmark continues with the new upper foyer levels next to have their floors laid and the structure framed, roofed and enclosed.

Thanks to the work of the Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee, the project will also be taking advantage of the opportunity to present an innovative outdoor art exhibition.

Several local artists have submitted art work to be reproduced on screens which will line the site fence along Civic Park in the coming weeks, providing a vibrant display.

Despite recent wet weather and some unexpected delays, the Arts Centre is still on track to reopen in mid-2018.

 


Community Update 3 - Fri 8 September 2017

The West Gippsland Arts Centre upgrade project has taken a big step forward with new steel structural framework lifted into place on Monday 4 September.

The head contractor, Building Engineering, had a crane on site early in the day and lifted the first of the large steel framework pieces into position on the newly excavated and poured foundation.

Whereas the first few months of works involved demolition and underpinning, this marked a major construction milestone.

The massive steel structure will form the base for the two new floors which will overlook Civic Park and provide audience access to the new balcony seating.

Despite some program interruptions caused by rain recently, the project is on track to be completed by the middle of 2018.

 


Community update 2 - Wed 5 July 2017

The West Gippsland Arts Centre Upgrade works are right on track! Since our last update, much progress has been made.

Trees

Four existing pine trees were removed to make way for the construction of the forecourt. However, the mature Pin Oak and European trees outside the Arts Centre building and the native trees along the northern boundary of the WGAC car park have been preserved and integrated into the forecourt design.

Forecourt

The new forecourt will link the southern car park to the new entrance at the same level. It will be landscaped with new gardens and new mature trees towards the end of the construction. The design of the forecourt has been reviewed and accepted by the Project Reference Group whose membership includes diverse and interested community members from the region.

Foyer Demolition and Reconstruction

The roof of the southern and eastern foyer and the eastern brick wall has been removed making way for the construction of the second and third floors above these areas. Construction of the norther foyer has commenced. A working platform is being constructed in the auditorium to enable the existing steel light bridges to be removed and the construction of the balcony to commence.

Further major demolition works and other minor demolition works will be carried out in stages as the works progress.

Traffic Management

Civic Place is now closed to one north bound traffic lane with 40km/h speed restrictions. Civic Park can be entered from Albert Street and exited at Smith Street. This is to facilitate the loading of larger construction items to the site.

During the works, full traffic management will be in place at all times. Our contractor, Building Engineering Pty Ltd, will be making every effort to minimise delays and reduce the levels of noise and dust that come with the building works of this nature.

All works will be carried out between 7.30am and 6.00pm from Monday to Friday, weather permitting.


Community update 1 - Tues 9 May 2017

Improved access, visibility and linkage with Civic Park is a major component of the upgrade to West Gippsland Arts Centre. An important step towards this goal got underway this week with the removal of the disused Community Assets building (formerly the Warragul library) which currently blocks the WGAC the street and park.

Demolition of this building and preparation for the new accessible forecourt commenced, with the process expected to take two to three days to complete.

The mature Pin Oak and European trees outside the Arts Centre building, as well as the native trees along the northern boundary of the WGAC carpark, will be preserved and integrated into the new forecourt design.

Responsible Disposal and Recycling

Further major demolition and other minor demolition works will be carried out in stages as the upgrade works progresses. Responsible disposal and recycling of old materials and is a key priority.  

Demolished building materials will be separated and transported to transfer stations for further sorting and recycling :

  • Mixed loads of rubbish will return to Independent Demolition’s yard at Altona North for sorting,
  • Metals will go to Norstar in Dandenong for recycling
  • Clean loads of concrete, asphalt and brick will go to Cardinia Environmental Recyclers

Amenity Update

During the demolition works, full traffic management will be in place at all times. Our contractor, Building Engineering Pty Ltd, will be making every effort to minimise delays and reduce the levels of noise and dust that come with building works.

Civic Park and the public toilets will be accessible at all times.


Image Gallery - Redevelopment Progress 2017-18