Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation community engagement 

Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation community engagement 

When the Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation (MAPT) project’s major works started this year, the project team had already been out and about for more than 12 months, talking to Southbank residents about what it takes to deliver a $1.7 billion project. 

This project will bring to life a single, continuous art, civic and cultural precinct, stretching from Federation Square through to Southbank, NGV and beyond, to create a globally significant space of gathering and creativity. It will feature The Fox: NGV Contemporary, the precinct’s new gallery that will be dedicated to art and design, significant upgrades to Arts Centre Melbourne’s Theatres Building, and a new 18,000-square-metre urban garden for people to enjoy. 

The project team participated in the annual Open House Melbourne for the first time this year, allowing the public to learn more about the project, while also being given a behind-the-scenes look at the State Theatre. The six sessions of groups of 14 were booked out within 45 minutes, highlighting the community’s keen interest to learn about the future of the Melbourne Arts Precinct. 

The first stop of the tour was a bird’s eye view of the site on Level 8 of the Theatres Building. From here, the group could see down into the worksite, where a large space is being excavated to expand Arts Centre Melbourne’s underground loading dock. Attendees then travelled “back of house”, down to the State Theatre. Going past dressing rooms and rehearsal spaces, they heard about the many improvements being made to the heritage building. 

“This tour has made me feel proud of Melbourne, and to be a part of this city,” one attendee said.

“This is what Open House is all about,” said another.

For those disappointed to miss out, there will be more opportunities to tour the project site next year when the project team open their doors again for Open House Melbourne tours. 

For Southbank residents living next door to the construction area, in addition to resident drop-in sessions, construction updates and quarterly newsletters, the project now has a Community Reference Group. Members were selected following a strong response to the Expression of Interest earlier this year.

The Community Reference Group members are all local residents. They are Sulagna Dasgupta, David Hamilton, Eileen Pang, Clair Richards, Dan O’Keeffe on behalf of Southbank Residents’ Association, and MaryKay Rauma on behalf of Southbank3006. 

Community Reference Group member MaryKay Rauma said, “The group represents the diverse demographic that calls Southbank home and is a testament to the Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation’s (MAP Co) desire to include the local community in this project. We are all passionate about Southbank and committed to representing local residents’ perspectives as we hear about how the project will be rolled out.”

The group met for the first time on June 29, with the meeting chaired by Penny Hutchinson, who has been appointed as the Independent Chair. The Community Reference Group has been established for the life of the project as a channel for in-depth discussions with community representatives on project activities.

It will give the project team local perspectives on the project, open communication channels and, where possible, help minimise construction impacts on the community. •

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