By Peter Douglas
The Burrinja Cultural Centre will receive its biggest facelift since the performing arts redevelopment in 2011, thanks to a $1.25 million funding boost.
The redevelopment is expected to be completed by mid to late 2019 and will include major refurbishments to the building, including the foyer and circulation space, artist studios, social gathering area and gallery space.
In addition, plans include the delivery of a new kitchen, cafe venue and foyer bar, and accessible public amenities.
As it stands, that section of the centre has been described as ‘disconnected’, ‘tired’ and ‘ad hoc’.
Monbulk MP James Merlino visited Upwey on Tuesday 5 December to announce the Growing Suburbs Fund grant for the redevelopment.
Burrinja Cultural Centre executive director Ross Farnell said the work would fulfil a long-held ambition for many.
“It’s something we always wanted to achieve, but never had the budget when the theatre redevelopment opened in 2011,” he said.
“This will allow us to open up the space and make use of the fantastic northern lighting. Presently, it has very ‘pokey’ corridors that go nowhere; we really want to open it up and enhance the experience for patrons and artists.
“The works will allow us to do what we do now, but better. Over time, we’re hoping more and more people will choose to visit Burrinja.”
As well as creating better spaces for studio artists, Mr Farnell said the redevelopment could potentially open up more space for casual artists.
Mr Merlino acknowledged the centre is a significant community hub in the Dandenong Ranges, which uses art to facilitate social bonding and inclusion.
“The Burrinja Cultural Centre is a great part of the Upwey community and it’s great to be able to support these much-needed restorations,” he said.
“This is a place where all members of our diverse, vibrant community can come together and develop long-lasting bonds from a young age.”