Geelong Cultural Precinct

Arts and Culture Pillar

The Need

The G21 region’s cultural assets are limited, ageing and used to capacity. Despite this, attendance in the Cultural Precinct has reached over half a million visitors annually. With predictions of strong regional population growth, expanding and updating these cultural assets remains a key issue.

The implementation of the Cultural Precinct Master Plan has already commenced. Refurbishment of the Old Courthouse Building was completed in 2011 and the Geelong Library & Heritage Centre opened in late 2015. Stage 2 of the Geelong Performing Arts Centre (GPAC) redevelopment will commence in 2016. The Geelong Gallery Business Case (2015) was the final major planning stage of the Cultural Precinct.

The expansion of the Geelong Gallery, Stage 3 of the GPAC redevelopment and work on the public realm still requires attention.

The Geelong Gallery has experienced strong growth in the past ten years, with visitation numbers doubling during this period. It currently attracts between 60,000 and 70,000 visitors annually, however, this is anticipated to triple to around 200,000 with expanded and upgraded facilities.

The gallery has been identified as having the greatest potential as an arts/cultural tourism attractor for Geelong and the region. However, its capacity to contribute to the region’s economic and cultural renewal is compromised by its current physical limitations of space and layout, which severely constrains its ability to properly showcase the valuable permanent collection and to attract or develop popular, large scale touring exhibitions.

Following redevelopment, the gallery will more than double its current footprint, gaining an extra 3200m2.

Average annual attendances at GPAC reach 225,000, with 1 in 2 households in Geelong and 1 in 3 of the households in the G21 region having attended GPAC in the past three years. Yet despite strong community engagement in this arts facility, GPAC’s technical infrastructure has not kept pace with industry standards. The building is not compliant, particularly in relation to disability access, nor does it meet current industry standards.

The new Geelong Library & Heritage Centre is providing clear evidence of the impact redevelopment can have on the precinct. In the first 12 weeks after opening the library tripled its patronage prior to demolition, experiencing 130,000 visitors.  During this period the Geelong Gallery also experienced increased visitation in the order of 35%  which reflects keen interest in the Gallery’s new exhibition space and flow-on from increased pedestrian traffic in the precinct.

It has been projected that proposed government investment would be repaid in five years, with a redeveloped Arts Centre and Gallery contributing over $30 million to Gross Regional Product every year.

This vibrant arts and culture precinct will create an inclusive city, improving the liveability and lifestyle of the region. It will help attract emerging industries and their staff to the G21 region, which is particularly important as the G21 region economy evolves from a heavy manufacturing and agriculture base to one that focuses on knowledge based and service industries.

The redevelopment of these two facilities within the Cultural Precinct is a critical element of the Central Geelong Action Plan, which will regenerate of Geelong’s Central Business District.

Project Aim

To create a regional hub for arts and culture activities and businesses comprising:

  • refurbishment of the Old Courthouse Building (completed)
  • an integrated Geelong Library & Heritage Centre (completed)
  • an expanded and refurbished GPAC (Stage 2 funded, Stage 3 OUTSTANDING)
  • expansion of the Geelong Gallery (Business Case funded, development OUTSTANDING)
  • work on the public realm in Lt Malop Street and Johnstone Park including public art and improved links to the train station and waterfront (OUTSTANDING).

Project Champion

Kelvin Spiller, Chief Executive Officer, City of Greater Geelong.

Benefits for Victoria and the G21 region

The Geelong Cultural Precinct will:

  • contribute over $30 million to Gross Regional Product annually and increase local output by more than $65 million annually (direct and indirect impacts)
  • create an estimated 390 local ongoing jobs after completion and support almost 700 Victorian jobs during the construction phase (direct and indirect jobs).
  • enhance the liveability of the G21 region, providing a cultural imperative for business and potential residents to relocate to the region
  • improve access to and participation in the arts. GPAC audiences are projected to increase over 80 per cent with an additional 200,000 seats available each year, while a redeveloped Geelong Gallery has the potential to attract up to 200,000 visitors annually
  • provide broader programming options, with a 122 per cent increase in events at GPAC to around 4000 annually
  • create a unique and distinctive artistic facility that will attract both domestic and international tourists.

What has been committed

The State Government has committed:

  • $7.9 million to develop the final Business Cases for GPAC and the Library Heritage Centre together with the Old Courthouse Building refurbishment
  • $30 million towards GPAC Stage 2 redevelopment
  • $6.9 million to expand and improve ammenity and access at GPAC
  • $3 million towards GPAC’s Playhouse refurbishment (Stage 1)
  • $2.65 million for critical maintenance works at GPAC
  • $15 million towards a new Geelong Library and Heritage Centre on the existing site
  • $100,000 to develop a business plan for the Geelong Art Gallery upgrade.

The Federal Government has committed:

  • $10 million towards a new Geelong Library and Heritage Centre on the existing site.

What is required

A State and Federal Government commitment of:

  • $40 million to redevelop the Geelong Gallery. Investment will also be required by CoGG and the Geelong Gallery.
  • $160 million to redevelop GPAC:
Critical Infrastructure Item
Federal Government
State Government
GPAC redevelopment 2016-2020 $50 million $110 million $160 million