South Melbourne Town Hall transformation takes its first steps forward

ANAM South Melbourne Town Hall - photo by Pia JohnsonThe Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) has announced that the City of Port Phillip has voted to proceed in negotiations with ANAM on a $43M major restoration and transformation of the South Melbourne Town Hall, to encompass two public performance venues, community meeting spaces and a community co-working space.

The decision was made at a full council meeting last night at St Kilda Town Hall. The plan was prompted by a catastrophic roof collapse in October 2018 which revealed the parlous state of the building and the necessity for change. The Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) is the country’s leading music performance training organisation and has been based at the South Melbourne Town Hall since 1996.

The fully funded proposal is for a major transformation of the magnificent building into an iconic and industry standard, cultural and community venue. The South Melbourne Town Hall will be set to play a powerful civic and cultural role for at least the next 50 years alongside continuing as the base for ANAM’s internationally celebrated activities.

It will become a 21st century engine room for live performance and community and cultural events, enabling more extensive cultural activation, community engagement and digital accessibility than the building has ever entertained.

“We are delighted to be able to enter into meaningful discussions with Port Phillip Council, to develop a partnership that will see this building rejuvenated, becoming an iconic destination venue and positioning South Melbourne on the city’s and country’s cultural map,” said ANAM General Manager Nick Bailey.

“The project will bring vitality and energy to the Emerald Hill precinct, in the process delivering economic growth to local retail and hospitality trades. It is our goal that more people than ever before will be able to access and enjoy the Town Hall, and that every one of those people will take away a memory that will stay with them for a long, long time”.

With a commitment of over $43 million of Commonwealth, State and private funds there lies a once in a generation opportunity to effect a major transformation of this magnificent building. In addition to covering the cost of the building’s refurbishment, ANAM is committed to taking responsibility for the building’s maintenance and asset management for the duration of the lease, removing further significant financial responsibility from local rate-payers.

The Commonwealth Dept of Infrastructure has committed $12.5m, and a further $2.5m of private funds is confirmed. ANAM is seeking an investment of $10m from the Victorian government, which will in turn unlock a $7m investment by Council, and more than $5m in philanthropic funds.

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Image: Main Hall – South Melbourne Town Hall – photo by Pia Johnson