BALLARAT residents will get a rare opportunity to take a look inside the crumbling Her Majesty’s Theatre this week as the council ramps up its campaign for a $15 million revival of the 143-year-old theatre.
Behind the scenes tours will be given today (Tuesday) and Thursday as the council launches its The Time Is Now campaign to restore the venue.
The City of Ballarat is advocating for $15 million funding from the state and federal governments for urgent works at the theatre.
Council has so far contributed $5.3 million to the project in its 2018/19 budget and emergency conservation works have already started with the support of a grant from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s, Living Heritage Grants which is made available through Heritage Victoria.
The city wants a further $5 million from the state government a $10 million federal government contribution to complete the works.
Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh said the tours would give the public a better understanding of how crucial the proposed works are to the theatre’s future. “It really is much easier to understand the works we need to do when you can see the deterioration with your own eyes,” Cr McIntosh said.
“We think the access we can give through these tours and the information sessions will help spread the word and gather support for the campaign to save Her Majesty’s.”
Engineers are still not completely sure what lies underneath the building’s foundations, while stage loading maps show areas where no more than one person can safety stand at a time.
This money so far committed will go toward investigating and strengthening the stage’s foundations, and roof fixes.
If fully funded, Her Majesty’s Theatre will also be made Disability Discrimination Act-compliant, with the installation of a front of house lift to all levels and a backstage passenger lift, larger dressing rooms and the extension of the foyer to keep theatre goers out of the cold.
Royal South Street Society chief executive Brett Macdonald told The Courier last month that another year without the venue could be “seriously dire”, with the cost of moving equipment and the competition’s reduced allure already causing a financial strain.
“Not having Her Majesty’s as a venue has meant quite a few of the the more elite entries have chosen not to come this year, particularly across dance and calisthenics, so there’s been a dip in entries,” he said. The public tours are on Tuesday and Thursday at 10am and 6pm. Patrons will be required to walk during the tour and must wear flat, closed in shoes.
READ MORE: Save Her Majesty’s: The Time Is Now