Geelong Cultural Precinct

Arts and Culture Pillar

The Need

The already high attendances to the Geelong Cultural Precinct have risen in recent years, and if crucial investment in the Geelong Performing Arts Centre and Geelong Gallery are made, will reach over a million visitors annually. With aged infrastructure servicing our strongly growing population, expanding and updating these cultural assets is 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 and Heritage Centre (GLHC) opened in late 2015. The Ryrie Street works for the Geelong Performing Arts Centre (GPAC) commenced in 2017. The Geelong Gallery Business Case (2015) and the Cultural Precinct Public Realm Master Plan are the final major planning stages of the project.

Stage 3 of the GPAC redevelopment, expansion of the Geelong Gallery and work on the public realm are now ready for investment.

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 and visitor infrastructure has not kept pace with industry standards or audience expectations. The building is not compliant, particularly in relation to disability access, nor does it meet current industry performance standards.

The Geelong Gallery has experienced strong growth in the past ten years, with visitation numbers doubling during this period. It currently attracts between 75,000 and 85,000 visitors annually, however, this is anticipated to triple to over 200,000 with expanded and upgraded facilities.

The Gallery’s ambition to contribute more to Geelong’s ‘clever and creative’ economic and cultural renewal is seriously restricted by a lack of adequate space, limiting display and constraining storage of the great riches of the magnificent collection owned by the people of Geelong. Expanded facilities will embed large scale, popular and drawcard exhibitions which will provide significant tourism and economic outcomes for the G21 region as part of the Geelong Gallery’s core business.

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

The new GLHC is providing clear evidence of the impact redevelopment can have on the precinct. In its first full financial year of operation (2016-17) since opening in late 2015, the GLHC recorded just under half a million visitors. This has grown 209% in the four years since demolition and reconstruction has taken place. 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 art centre and gallery contributing over $30 million to Gross Regional Product every year.

The redevelopment of these two facilities within the Cultural Precinct is a critical element of the Revitalising 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 GLHC (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

Joel McGuinness, Chief Executive Officer, Geelong Performing Arts Centre.

Jason Smith, Director, Geelong Gallery.

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 over 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
  • create a home for artists and creative industries to work and create Geelong cultural exports.

What has been committed

The State Government has committed:

  • $7.9 million to develop the final Business Cases for GPAC and the GLHC together with the Old Courthouse Building refurbishment
  • $37 million towards GPAC Ryrie Street redevelopment (Stage 2 of masterplan) including business disruption support
  • $3 million towards GPAC’s Playhouse refurbishment (Stage 1 of masterplan)
  • $2.65 million for critical maintenance works at GPAC
  • $15 million towards a new GLHC
  • $100,000 to develop a business plan for the Geelong Gallery upgrade.

The Federal Government has committed:

  • $10 million towards a new GLHC.

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 Geelong Performing Arts Centre Masterplan:
Critical Infrastructure Item
Federal Government
State Government
GPAC redevelopment 2019-2021 $40 million $120 million $160 million

A commitment by State and Federal governments to embed GROW training, employment and procurement principles in all government projects within the region.