Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Surf Coast $36m cultural centre plans approved

Surf Coast Shire Council has approved concept plans and a business case for the two-stage development of Surf Coast Cultural Centre in Torquay’s Surf City precinct.

Stage one plans for the centre, valued at $36.8 million, include redevelopment and expansion of the Australian National Surfing Museum, with its internationally-significant collection, joining Torquay Library and Torquay Visitor Information Centre in a new building incorporating the existing redeveloped Multi Arts Centre.

Elements of the new centre and surrounds would reflect Wadawurrung Aboriginal cultural, visual and environmental heritage, Council said in a statement today.

Council has committed $8.06 million to the first stage, through its Torquay-Jan Juc Development Contributions Plan, and is seeking $28.8 million in state and/or federal government grants, election commitments or philanthropic contributions.

Mayor Libby Stapleton said a new Surf Coast Cultural Centre would modernise the undersized existing facilities and strengthen the Surf City precinct as a destination.

“This is an exciting step forward which recognises the far-reaching cultural, social and economic benefits of this project,” Mayor Stapleton said.

A $20 million second stage development, estimated for completion in 2030 pending funding, would involve redevelopment of the Multi Arts Centre with a 250-seat studio theatre, gallery, artist-in-residence studio and backstage areas for performers.

“Now we ask for our community’s help in spreading the word about this fantastic project worthy of strong support from state and federal governments. We would also welcome interest from the philanthropic sector,” the Mayor said.

“Many members of the arts community, surf industry and users of the current buildings shared with us what they think are the needs for this facility and this has very much informed the concept design we have now.

“We will continue to seek their advice as we progress to detailed stages of planning and design.

“We are particularly excited by the prospect of creating a purpose-built space enabling us to better display the 12,000 items from our Australian National Surfing Museum. Our collection is recognised as being of national and international significance and illustrates such a vivid and important part of our story on the Surf Coast.

“The total project will bring significant economic benefit for the region. The construction phase is projected to support a total of 148 jobs, and a completed stage one is forecast to inject an additional $243 million in direct and indirect tourist expenditure in the Great Ocean Road region, supporting more than 750 jobs.

“The centre will promote and support lifelong learning, provide important social connections, and we look forward to working with our Wadawurrung community identifying ways we can reflect cultural, visual and environmental heritage.”

Geelong Regional Library Corporation Chief Executive Officer Vanessa Schernickau commended Council on approving the concept design and business case for the “exciting” new centre.

“Investing in public libraries makes economic sense as well as creating opportunities for increased social connection, resulting in health and economic benefits for the community. Libraries have demonstrated capacity to strengthen communities and build social capital by providing universal access to resources, spaces and an inclusive forum that supports creative expression,” Ms Schernickau said.

“The new Torquay Library will support creative practitioners and entrepreneurial activity through the provision of free business grade Wi-Fi, printing, maker spaces, and spaces for work and study.

“I’ve no doubt the Centre will become an important and much-loved community asset for the Torquay community and visitors to the town. We are extremely grateful to the Council for their vision on this project and for their ongoing support and investment in library services for the Surf Coast community. The team and I look forward to working closely with Surf Coast Shire on this exciting project in the coming years.”

Council’s pending grant applications are for $10 million through the Victorian Government’s Regional Tourism Investment Fund, and $8.06 million through the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund.

Council said it will continue to pursue multiple funding opportunities to raise the funds needed to deliver the project. A detailed design process with further community engagement will be undertaken when funding is secured, it said.

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