Memorial Hall ‘Grand Opening’ Scheduled Events - Postponed

Published on 22 February 2023

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The planned Memorial Hall ‘Grand Opening’ events scheduled for 13-18 March has been postponed until May. Following extensive renovations, the Council and the community planned a multi-arts performance program across five nights to show off the new facility and its audio-visual capability. Unfortunately, despite all Council’s efforts working with the contractors to complete the upgrade to Memorial Hall, the decision has been made to push back the official opening event.

The Memorial Hall re-development has seen many challenges right from the commencement of the project with COVID putting a stop to...well everything. The project was further challenged by the multiple floods and storm events experienced in 2022. Many building projects, not just the Memorial Hall, have had to contend with ongoing delays due to building materials shortages, supply chain issues, and access to trades. The unforeseen delays that upgrading a 100-year-old structure, to ensure it meets today’s building requirements, was another setback for the development plans.

It is not the news that Council wanted to deliver - there is a lot of anticipation around re-opening the Hall to celebrate the arts in our community. Council staff, along with contractors, are working hard to make sure the re-opening of Memorial Hall is a great experience for both the performers and the audiences.

Despite the setbacks, the Memorial Hall refurbishment is very close to completion and boasts exciting new features such as a new multipurpose studio including Kitchenette and AV capability, upgraded green room facilities for large performances and stage productions, new seating on a stepped platform for increased capacity and improving the view to the stage, and additional parking and accessibility including upgraded bathroom facilities, stage lifts and ramps.

The construction of the Memorial Hall upgrade is part of Bellingen Shire’s Community Vision 2035. The vision for Memorial Hall is so that the Shire has the facilities needed to foster collaboration, community and creativity. The refurbishment of the Hall and associated amenities, will welcome diverse performances and nurture a healthy creative culture within the community. The upgrades included making the venue accessible and suitable for a range of artistic expressions.

The venue is going to be a great asset for the community and will be a central place to bring the community together for all types of events. The new features make it a very versatile space. It is disappointing that it is not quite ready for the March launch however we cannot compromise on providing the artists and the community the experience they deserve.

The Council is committed to delivering a great experience for everyone, and the new dates planned for the Memorial Hall ‘Grand Opening’ events have been moved to May 29 to June 3, to suit the performers and organisers. The first event held at the Hall will be Screenwave International Film Festival (SWIFF) in April, as the film festival returns to Bellingen after a 2-year hiatus. This will give the community a chance to experience the Hall before the official opening event in May. Council wants to thank the community for their patience while we work through the finishing touches.