Geelong Cultural Precinct

Arts and Culture Pillar

The Need

Booming population growth and ageing infrastructure is creating a strong demand for modern arts and cultural facilities in the G21 region.

The implementation of the Cultural Precinct Master Plan is well underway. Refurbishment of the Old Courthouse Building was completed in 2011 and the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre opened in late 2015. The Ryrie Street works for the Geelong Arts Centre (Arts Centre) was finished in late 2019, while the Little Malop Street redevelopment will commence in 2020.

Funding is still required to fully realise Stage 3 of the Arts Centre's Master Plan, to redevelop the Geelong Gallery and for work on the public realm.

Geelong Gallery has enjoyed strong growth over the past five years, with visitation tripling during this period. In 2017-18 with the hosting of the Archibald Prize, the institution attracted 117,000 guests and is on target to attract over 130,000 people in 2018-19. The forecast economic impact of the Archibald Prize in the past two years has been $6-8 million. With expanded and upgraded facilities the Gallery would attract 200,000+ guests annually.

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 magnificent collection owned by the people of Geelong.

The redevelopment of Geelong Gallery will present a new model of a regional art museum and civic, social space thorough a significant expansion into the Geelong Town Hall. Expanded facilities will embed large scale, popular and drawcard exhibitions, providing significant tourism and economic outcomes for the G21 region as part of the Geelong Gallery’s core business. Following expansion, the Gallery will more than double its current footprint, gaining an extra 3200m2.

The upgraded Geelong Library and Heritage Centre provides compelling evidence of the positive impact redevelopment can have on the precinct. In both full financial years of operation (2016-17 and 2017-18) since opening in late 2015, the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre recorded just under half a million visitors (growth of about 209 per cent since demolition and rebuild). Geelong Gallery also experienced increased visitation of around 35 per cent with the Library expansion, which reflects keen interest in the Gallery’s new exhibition space and flow-on from increased pedestrian traffic in the precinct.

The completion of Geelong Arts Centre and redevelopment of the Geelong Gallery 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 Geelong Library and Heritage Centre (completed)
  • an expanded and refurbished Geelong Arts Centre (development underway, funding STILL REQUIRED)
  • expansion of the Geelong Gallery (funding required for updated Business Case; capital development remains 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.

Project Champion

Joel McGuinness, Chief Executive Officer, Geelong Arts Centre.
Jason Smith, Director, Geelong Gallery.

Benefits for Victoria and the G21 region

The Geelong Cultural Precinct will:

  • inject over $30 million to Gross Regional Product annually and increase local output by more than $65 million annually (direct and indirect impacts)
  • create around 390 local ongoing jobs after completion and support almost 700 Victorian jobs during construction (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; a redeveloped Geelong Gallery has the potential to attract up to 200,000 visitors 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 the Geelong Arts Centre and the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre together with the Old Courthouse Building refurbishment
  • $128 million towards the Geelong Arts Centre Little Malop Street redevelopment (Stage 3 of master plan)
  • $37 million towards Geelong Arts Centre Ryrie Street redevelopment (Stage 2 of master plan)
  • $3 million towards Geelong Arts Centre’s Playhouse refurbishment (Stage 1 of master plan)
  • $15 million towards the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre
  • $100,000 to develop a business plan for the Geelong Gallery upgrade.

The Federal Government has committed:

  • $10 million towards the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre
  • $5 million towards streetscape upgrades within the Arts and Cultural Precinct through the Geelong City Deal.

What is required

  • $80 million to redevelop Geelong Gallery. Investment will also be required by CoGG and Geelong Gallery
  • $28 million towards Stage 3 of the Geelong Arts Centre Master Plan to fully realise the master plan's intention
  • funding for streetscape upgrades within the Arts and Cultural Precinct.

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