The Civic Hall was to reopen as an exhibition venue for the upcoming Biennale of Australian Art

Proposed venue: The City of Ballarat says it could never guarantee use of the Civic Hall for BOAA. Picture: The Courier

Proposed venue: The City of Ballarat says it could never guarantee use of the Civic Hall for BOAA. Picture: The Courier

The forthcoming Biennale of Australian Art (BOAA) is searching for new venues to display work in, after revelations Civic Hall will not be ready in time to host planned exhibitions for the major venture.

The new biennale, which will feature ‘art by 150 of Australia's most innovative artists’, will open in Ballarat in September this year, running until November.

The Courier understands the long-closed hall was proposed as a potential venue, with artists being told they would likely show there by the BOAA management.

However one of the artists confirmed they had been informed the hall would not be ready in time.

“It’s disappointing,” said the artist. “It would have been nice to be part of bringing the Civic Hall back to the community, like a reopening, but I suppose it might be in a pretty bad way inside.”

The City of Ballarat will work with the BOAA organisers if they wish to look at other council managed venues as a site for the inaugural 2018 event.

City of Ballarat development and planning director Angelique Lush

BOAA artistic and managing director Julie Collins said it was an opportunity for the biennale to hunt other venues and spaces which might be reimagined, rather than viewing the loss of Civic Hall as a setback.

“I’m calling on Ballarat building owners to let me know about disused buildings we could activate for BOAA,” says Ms Collins. She says the organisation is securing private funding, and further sponsors are also welcome.

Venues already confirmed for BOAA include the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the Mining Exchange, Ballarat Trades Hall, The Lost Ones Gallery, the council’s Backspace Gallery and 328 Eureka Street – The former George Farmer Bacon factory.

Ballarat is perfectly placed to host Victoria's most significant contemporary visual art festival with its celebrated Regional Gallery (The Art Gallery of Ballarat), significant public art collection, growing contemporary scene, heritage buildings and compelling natural environments. The scale and physicality of Ballarat will provide the ideal "whole of town" gallery experience for audiences.

BOAA Website

The Courier put questions to the City of Ballarat regarding contracts with builders and time-frames for work to be completed on Civic Hall.

They responded with a written statement:

“The Biennale of Australian Art is a significant event for Ballarat, an event the City of Ballarat is proud to support through significant investment in cash and in kind support. As part of our support for events, we facilitate access to appropriate venues.

“The City of Ballarat will provide the community with an update on the expected completion date of the restoration of the interior of the Civic Hall shortly.”

 City of Ballarat development and planning director Angelique Lush said:

It would have been nice to be part of bringing the Civic Hall back to the community, like a reopening, but I suppose it might be in a pretty bad way inside.

BOAA artist

"While the City of Ballarat is providing substantial financial and in-kind support to BOAA, it has never been able to guarantee the Civic Hall as a venue due to the extensive, ongoing program of restoration works.

"The City of Ballarat will work with the BOAA organisers if they wish to look at other council managed venues as a site for the inaugural 2018 event.

"However, BOAA is a commercially operated event and any operational decisions, such as choosing a venue, remains solely the decision of the operators."