The state government has revealed they will contribute $10 million to the restoration works at Her Majesty’s Theatre if re-elected, with hopes the theatre could be fully restored by 2020.
The long-awaited election promise is one which will delight thousands of dance devotees and musical theatre fiends, including those involved annually with Royal South Street.
The 143-year-old building is facing significant structural issues. When closed for roof renovations at the end of 2017, after roof trusses were found to be split, a probe of the stage’s foundations showed it could not bear the load of scaffolding and heavy equipment to fix the problems above.
City of Ballarat has already committed $5.3 million to a swag of works on the site, including reinforcing the roof and reconstructing the stage, with another $2 million Heritage Victoria grant to update paint and fixtures.
The total required $22.3 million will go towards making the theatre Disability Discrimination Act-compliant, restoration works, the installation of lifts at the back and front-of-house, automation of the orchestra pit, better dressing rooms and the extension and improvement of foyer spaces.
Premier Daniel Andrews said local Labor candidates Juliana Addison and Michaela Settle had “fought incredibly hard on behalf of their communities” for the funding, calling on the federal government to provide the remaining $5 million.
“Her Majesty’s is irreplaceable, and we want to restore it to its former glory, to make sure that the next generation can enjoy this beautiful theatre for decades to come,” he said.
Royal South Street Society’s CEO Brett Macdonald, the news of government support for the project couldn’t come soon enough.
This year’s competition suffered from significantly lower entries and ticket sales due to not having “the unfair advantage” of being at Her Maj, putting the society’s future in jeopardy.
“When it was announced it wouldn’t be open this year, we had some competitors saying they wouldn’t enter, because no Her Maj, no South Street,” he said. “Moving our main disciplines out to FedUni has also been costly.
“Now with this extra $10 million – and we’d lean on the federal government for that $5 million still missing, we’re going to take a great heritage theatre and turn it into Australia’s very best heritage theatre.”