South Melbourne Town Hall Renewal
The Australian National Academy of Music has unveiled plans for a bold $65 million vision that will transform the South Melbourne Town Hall into a vibrant creative, learning, community and cultural destination venue.
Whilst preserving the building’s heritage character, a full restoration of the Town Hall will realise its rich 21st century potential, creating new open spaces; state-of-the-art public performance, studio and rehearsal facilities; much-needed office accommodation for creative organisations; a public hospitality venue; strengthened building structure and updated services. This project is designed to provide new energy and a revitalised community focus to the Emerald Hill precinct.
ANAM is committed to ensuring that the Town Hall remains accessible to all, a visionary space for the future: a place for creating new memories in addition to preserving old ones.
The project has funding from both the Commonwealth Government and Port Phillip Council. ANAM is currently in discussion with the Victorian Government and Melbourne’s philanthropic community regarding potential further investment.
The project will generate jobs, economic and local hospitality growth, retail and tourism, while revitalising an important historic building at little cost to ratepayers, arresting the slow decline of a magnificent building and providing a one-off opportunity to redefine its potential for generations to come.
Port Phillip Council unanimously and enthusiastically approved seeking community feedback on ANAM’s proposed lease at their 7 December Council meeting.
We invite you to now get behind this vital project and let the Council know how important it is to save the Town Hall. You can do so by clicking the ‘have your say’ button above, which will take you to City of Port Phillip’s community consultation hub.
The goal of this project is to breathe new life into the South Melbourne Town Hall.
As part of a long-term partnership with the City of Port Phillip, ANAM will bring $50 million in government and philanthropic funding to Council’s $15m investment to develop a new cultural and community destination venue. With potential to host a wide variety of events — including comedy, dance, drama, seminars, meetings, school events, lectures and a broad range of music — the Town Hall will once again be a place of gathering, inspiration and creativity for all, enabling South Melbourne to take its place as a recognised cultural destination.
This investment will:
- Upgrade the 350-seat Main Hall’s heating and cooling, operational infrastructure and public amenity;
- Unveil an intimate new public performance space — the 150-seat Supper Room — in the 1st floor west wing, with an external terrace;
- Include a welcoming café that will enable anyone to spend time in the Town Hall;
- Deliver a new modern catering kitchen to service events in both the Main Hall and the Supper Room;
- Bring the building’s services up to 21st century capability (fire, hydraulics, electricity, data, heating and cooling);
- Increase the Town Hall’s energy efficiency, and introduce solar power, insulation and water recycling, aiming to deliver a carbon neutral building;
- Ensure that the architectural and civic heritage of the building is preserved and amplified, working closely with Council’s Conservation Management Plan (Lovell Chen);
- Work with local First Nation’s groups to ensure that the rich story of this place is brought into the foreground of the creative concept for the building and its environment;
- Feature external building lighting and projection, making it a beacon that draws the community toward it;
- Ensure that the front doors will once again be the Town Hall's main entry, with access to people of all abilities and mobilities.
No ratepayer money will be spent on ANAM's restoration and renewal project. City of Port Phillip’s $15m investment is directed solely towards the restoration of the Town Hall to meet safety and building compliance requirements. One hundred percent of revenue from operating the facility will be invested by ANAM directly back into the management and day-to-day maintenance of the Town Hall, so ratepayers will be relieved of the financial burden of managing and operating this complex building.
ANAM and City of Port Phillip have developed an extensive Community Engagement and Access Plan as a core component of the proposed Lease to guide the proposed renewal project and on-going operations of the Town Hall. Key elements of this plan include:
- Providing rehearsal and concert facilities for the South Melbourne Symphony Orchestra;
- Generous discounted venue hire rates for community groups;
- The opportunity for Port Phillip residents and workers to attend the vast majority of ANAM’s performances at no cost;
- Citizenship ceremonies and Council Meetings will continue to be conducted in the Town Hall, at no cost;
- The establishment of the South Melbourne Town Hall Cultural Fund, with a percentage of ticket sales revenue from every event presented in the Town Hall contributing to a program to invest in the presentation of cultural events in the City of Port Phillip.
Council's ASSIST office will continue to operate in the Town Hall or in the immediate neighbourhood. Office accommodation for small-to-medium creative industries organisations will be provided in the re-developed building.
Going forward, ANAM will manage the building independently of the operations of its music academy, ensuring efficient and professional venue operations for the duration of the new Lease.
Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM)
Located in the South Melbourne Town Hall for 25 years, ANAM is an international, dynamic and outward facing cultural institution and performing company, with a demonstrated commitment to servicing and engaging with its communities. It is internationally renowned as the only purely performance classical music training academy in Australia, and one of the few in the world.
ANAM has industry partnerships with over 20 organisations, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Tasmanian, Melbourne and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, the Auckland Philharmonia, Musica Viva Australia, a range of national music and arts festivals, and, internationally with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and London’s Royal College of Music.
Alongside NIDA, the Australian Ballet School, NAISDA Dance College and other leading institutions, ANAM is a member of the Australian Government-funded Arts8 group of performing arts training organisations. The Arts8 are committed to providing the high level and intense studio-based training necessary to ensuring that the national performing arts sector has a pipeline of creative talent that will enable it to continue telling Australian stories for generations.
ANAM alumni are found in many of the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles, and ANAM’s intensive schedule brings together a global network of artists and performers, who provide invaluable mentorship and guidance for emerging young musicians through public performances, in-residence master classes and other programs.
Pre-COVID ANAM presented more than 200 public events per year — the majority free to residents of the City of Port Phillip — and attracted more than 25,000 patrons to the precinct, in turn generating valuable economic activity.
ANAM is an extraordinary institution: intense, demanding, challenging and immensely rewarding to be involved with.
– Simone Young AM, Chief Conductor, Sydney Symphony Orchestra .
For more information, see anam.com.au