The Bellingen Memorial Hall (affectionately known as the Mem Hall), is set for an impressive $4.054m redevelopment – citing increased inclusion, access and broader usage of this facility as the driving motivators. Our principle arts and cultural facility will become so much more than a space for hire. “We envisage a community arts HUB- an Arts Evolution for Bellingen- bringing together our creative community” says Dean Beasley of Bello Youth Hub, who has been a key driver of this community enterprise.
Drawing on the contributions of 46 locals who have represented the hall’s many user-groups (including schools, event organisations, youth and community groups, dance, the arts, The Bellingen Youth Orchestra and local businesses), the Bellingen Shire Council has successfully been awarded The Regional Cultural Fund grant of $3.303m, in addition to previously secured funding for the Mem Hall’s transformation. “It has been a true community collaboration,” says Dean. “It is a wonderful outcome for the whole community.”
The Mem Hall will celebrate its 90th birthday next year. Bellingen Shire Mayor, Cr Dominic King, explained that ninety years ago the Memorial Hall was the ‘glue’ that held this town together. “Every event, even birthday parties, were held in our beloved hall. We want to create a user friendly, multi-used space for the whole community.”
The redevelopment will be broken down into various stages commencing in 2019. The first of which will include alterations to the existing hall to improve accessibility, bathroom facilities, painting and much needed structural updates, with special consideration given to the retention of its heritage design. The second stage will include an exciting new expanded two-story wing, to be built to the rear of the existing hall. It will include an intimate performance/cinema space with up to 40 retractable seats, a green room, kitchen, accessible bathrooms and an outdoor deck overlooking Bellingen Park. Additional storage plus improved & expanded car parking facilities are included in this stage. An internal lift will link the floors. This will allow for multiple, simultaneous usage.
Today Oxley Representative for the National Party Melinda Pavey made the announcement to an expectant media at the Bellingen Memorial Hall, saying, “The creative scope of these architectural works is visionary. The heritage status of the building represents an enormous investment, not just into the hall, but for all the locals and tourists who have been part of this fantastic cultural place,” said Melinda.
Early in 2019 Bellingen Shire Council will commence a detailed consideration and consultative process with all users and the Bellingen Shire community as a whole, to ensure that the future direction for our Mem Hall complies with the our needs as the primary beneficiaries. “Our dream is that with this restoration and redevelopment, the Bellingen Memorial Hall will once again serve as a focal point of our town,” says Dean Beasley.
We will keep you posted on the next steps of this project as they become available.