Arts Centre Project Takes Major Step Forward

Published on 30 January 2018

During the last week, major structural steel components have been lifted into the West Gippsland Arts Centre (WGAC), marking an important milestone in the building upgrade project.

Steel fabricators equipped with a very large crane, were on-site early on Tuesday 23 January in readiness to install the three largest steel girders which will hold up the new balcony seating platform inside the theatre.

The main support girder is 1200mm high and will be made up of three lengths of approximately 8 meters each, which will be bolted in place together.

Weighing many tonnes each, they were carefully lifted by crane to the upper level and then precisely manoeuvred through a small opening and into place inside the theatre, using a combination of rollers and a manually operated lifting frame.

The next step, to take place in the first week of February, will see two of these beams raised and joined to the supporting beams in the sides of the main theatre structure. Following this, the centre span will be added and each bolted together to form a single girder ready to take the weight of the new balcony.

The new balcony will enable the WGAC to expand from a capacity of 500 to 750 seats, giving local users as well as major commercial shows, a much-needed boost in capability.

With the main beams safely located inside the theatre, work commenced immediately on the steel-work structure of the new balcony foyer area, which will be a new addition to the existing building.

The next steps will involve pouring the new floor concrete slab at that level and installing the final stage of the new passenger lift structure.

Works continue to be on schedule for the planned reopening of the venue in mid-2018 and many community groups and external hirers have already secured their bookings to present performances in the refurbished WGAC in the second half of this year and into 2019.

Mayor of Baw Baw Shire Councillor Joe Gauci said he was very excited to see this important step taken on the critical path of the project.

“Having had the arts centre closed now for ten months, we are reminded daily what it would be like to be without this great regional facility, which meets so many different community needs”, said the Mayor.

“We look forward to mid-year when we can celebrate its reopening together and enjoy the important improvements this project will deliver.”

While the project continues, the WGAC has continued its program of presenting shows in our Shire’s smaller towns, with the next event to take place in the Neerim Junction Hall on Friday 2 March.

Information about this show and all other events can be found at www.wgac.com.au or by following West Gippsland Arts Centre on Facebook.

Cran lifting one of the 8-metre steel beams into the Arts Centre

Image: A crane lifting one of the 8 metre steel beam lengths into the arts centre.