Originally written by ANGELA VALENTE
THERE will be no shows and potentially no cinema at the Hamilton Performing Arts Centre for four months as it undergoes $1.7 million revamp.
Centre manager Ken Cameron said no temporary arrangements for holding performances in Hamilton had been made for the period between February and May.
The calendar was packed until the end of January but after this time people would have to go Warrnambool, Portland or Mt Gambier to see the usual calendar events.
Alternative arrangements for shows had not been made because they wanted to keep costs down.
Mr Cameron said it would be easier to close down and get the refurbishment done as quickly as possible so they could reopen in June 2009 with a facelift that will be worth the wait.
“While the work is happening it is easier and cheaper to close the facility for the estimated three to four month schedule.
“Without an entrance point and toilets it makes it difficult for us to do something which is not at a great expense.
“It is the least inconvenient time of the year to do the work.”
Cinema owner Reg Boulter said he didn’t want to see it shut down because the audience might not come back after the revamp.
He is concerned no one will take over the cinema lease, leaving idle after the makeover, or forcing him to takeover management again.
“It would be ridiculous shutting it down for that long,” he said.
“We certainly don’t want to see the place close down. It’s just going to sit there and go to dust.”
There are three parts to the refurbishment – the foyer, the cinema and the outside entrance.
“The idea behind the project is to improve attractiveness and create ambiance in the foyer, to modernise and upgrade the facilities.”
Improvements would be made to the foyer to make better use of space, to upgrade the box office, toilets and to introduce new carpeting and decoration.
Changes would also be made to lighting and decoration, plus new seats and improved layout in the auditorium and a new kiosk and café area.
“The entrance is looking rather tired, the last works on it were in the 70s,” he said.
The refurbishment had been in planning for a few years.
“We are a major venue in town and we hold major shows. We really need to make sure we can hold them at the best place,” he said.
These works are funded by the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund which gave $950,000 and a contribution of $750,000 from Southern Grampians Shire.
The multi million-dollar project is set to finish in 2010 with the final third of the project – the entrance to the PAC to be automated and given a high key entrance point.
There will also be landscaping to improve the outside look and grant easier access to the area.
Mr Cameron said the timing of the outside work would be given consideration and would be started late summer at the quieter time of the year.