Project Bulletin November 2021

In this bulletin 


It’s time for the Next Act!

Excitement is building in the community with construction of the new Whitehorse performing arts centre set to start prior to Christmas 2021.

Former Whitehorse Mayor Cr Andrew Munroe ushered in the start of construction by turning a sod after a smoking ceremony was performed by Traditional Owners to cleanse the land on 5 November.

cr munroe turns the sod
Cr Munroe turns a sod

“The turning of the sod marks the start of construction of the Whitehorse performing arts centre. It also represents the culmination of 11 years of extensive researching, planning and engaging with our community to pursue a worthy vision for performing arts in Whitehorse,” Cr Munroe said.

“We are delighted that the design created by BKK Architects and Kerstin Thompson Architects has brought to life this vision for an accessible, flexible and contemporary venue for the whole community.

“The new centre will be a place to be entertained, connect and socialise, learn and develop new skills, and come together to celebrate as a community.

“Council recognises the significant contribution arts and culture make to community health and wellbeing, community vibrancy, people’s sense of place and belonging, and to the economic prosperity of the City of Whitehorse. 

“Through the construction phase and longer term, the new centre is expected to create 320 jobs, both directly and indirectly. Local businesses will also have the opportunity to supply goods and services.

“It is for these reasons we are making this important strategic investment for all current and future Whitehorse residents.

“As we look to the future, we eagerly await the exciting times ahead when we can welcome back our long-term music, dance and theatrical groups, schools and other local community user groups. We look forward to welcoming back Australia’s most beloved performing artists and national touring shows. And we look forward to welcoming back the people of Whitehorse to enjoy the performing arts and community festivals, and to take part in the diverse arts and cultural opportunities on offer.” 

smoking ceremony
Uncle Ringo of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people performs a smoking ceremony to cleanse the land in readiness for the commencement of construction.

Head Contractor Announced

National Master Builder of the Year 2019 Kane Constructions has been appointed head contractor for the project. Kane Constructions has nearly 40 years’ experience and is the team behind some of Australia’s most iconic buildings, including the Geelong Arts Centre redevelopment, RACV Cape Schanck Resort, and Prahran Square.

“We are thrilled that this accomplished company is building our special community facility for the people of Whitehorse. We look forward to working with them over the next two years,” Cr Munroe said.

Joint Managing Director Kane Constructions Richard Frisina said, “We are excited and honoured to be partnering with Whitehorse City Council, and a consultant team led by BKK Architects, Kerstin Thompson Architects and WSP to deliver what will be a leading, high quality performing arts and cultural facility for the Whitehorse community”.

Kane Constructions is setting up on site and will conduct some preparatory works prior to Christmas 2021. The construction site will then close down for the Christmas/New Year period and reopen mid-January 2022.

Getting Around the Civic Precinct 

The civic precinct will remain open to the public during the construction period. However, in the interest of public safety, pedestrian access and parking will be altered based on construction activities. A parking and pedestrian map is available here.

Looking Forward to the New Centre

Babirra Music Theatre’s Lucy Sonnemann and her mum Mary are eagerly awaiting the new centre and the opportunities it will provide for the young performer and her family.

“Opening night is such an exciting time waiting in the wings, anticipating the orchestra to begin,” said Lucy, who played lead roles in two of Babirra’s enchanting family productions at the former Whitehorse Centre. Lucy played the irrepressible Jemima in Chitty Bang Bang Bang and the mischievous Louisa in The Sound of Music. 

“I am looking forward to seeing backstage at the new centre as it was a pretty tight squeeze with ‘Chitty’ our flying car. The new centre has more room on stage and in the wings, new dressing rooms and a larger orchestra pit.”

Lucy’s family attended many performances at the former centre and mum Mary is looking forward to social get-togethers at the new contemporary facility. 

“Family and friends meet in the foyer before seeing a show,” Mary said. “It will be wonderful to have a larger space that can easily accommodate the congregating audience. And with plenty of extra parking, it will make an already fabulous night out even better.” 

Sonnemann Family
The Sonnemann family: (l-r) Kevin, James, Mary, Lucy and Lachlan