Home' The Great Southern Star : July 19th 2016 Contents PAGE 6 - “THE STAR” Tuesday, July 19, 2016
for funding for a purpose built theatre with funding
going to Warragul, Wonthaggi and the latest Traral-
gon, meanwhile Leongatha is crying out for its own
performing arts centre.
While Wonthaggi is looking for funding to re-
vamp its theatre Leongatha has had to make do with
Mesley Hall in the Leongatha Secondary College
Seen as the traditional home of Lyric Theatre,
Mesley Hall has seen many award winning produc-
tions staged by the local company for more than 50
years but increasingly the task of staging big musi-
cals is becoming more difficult and obviously would
be a lot easier with a purpose built centre.
Talking to The Star last week Mary Poppins
co-director and Lyric committee member Peter
McAlpine, still on a huge high after the success of
Lyric’s latest blockbuster musical that was a com-
plete sell out, said the dream has always been to see
a purpose built performing arts centre established in
An option being explored by a small sub-com-
mittee would be the development of Mesley Hall
which Mr McAlpine said would require a huge in-
jection of government funding.
“Mesley has been Lyric’s home for so long but it
really does need major funding for extension works
that would see the stage size increased as we had to
add an extra five metres to the stage for Mary Pop-
pins, just to accommodate the 70 strong cast.
“We need to extend out the back so we can get
sets in from the back, as at this stage we can only
bring everything in from the front foyer and this just
“We need a bigger stage and wing area as these
are way too small and the orchestra pit needs to be
extended, as for Mary Poppins the orchestra was
crammed into a small space and it is always very hot
for the musicians, not exactly ideal.
“It would be great to have Mesley set up as a
theatre permanently so we didn’t have to pack up the
chairs and tiered flooring after every show.”
Mr McAlpine said Lyric has worked hard for
many years raising money to build better facilities
for performers and the audience that has seen the
coffers just about dry after the huge $70,000 expen-
diture for new chairs for the tiered floor, of which
only about $23,000 was grant money and took the
group about 20 years of saving to achieve
“The chairs were a must to add to the comfort
of the audience as we were losing numbers due to
the uncomfortable chairs. So this has been a big im-
provement along with new carpets and curtains for
Mesley and we have had great feedback from people
saying how comfortable the chairs are and the whole
theatre experience is more enjoyable.
But Mr McAlpine said it is getting harder and
harder designing sets to fit the small Mesley area
and to keep people safe, certainly no mean feat with
a huge production like Mary Poppins, thankfully
handled to perfection by award winning set designer
“If we had better facilities it would be a lot easier
to stage productions, we could stage more shows and
the performers and audience would be a lot more
comfortable,” Mr McAlpine said.
He said a new centre or improved facility would
not only benefit Lyric theatre but dance schools for
concerts and the schools would be able to use it for
performances and wouldn’t have to travel to Wont-
haggi like Mary MacKillop College had to do for its
Fame Junior musical.
The newly returned Member for McMillan Russell
Broadbent was disappointed he had to turn down an
invitation to attend the fabulous Mary Poppins musi-
cal due to election commitments but told The Star last
Friday, “I think having an arts centre for Leongatha
is a great idea, and I encourage the South Gippsland
Shire Council to make an application under the Fed-
eral Government’s Building Better Regions Fund.”
Mr McAlpine said, “The actors, production team,
orchestra are crying out for something even half de-
A strong campaigner for better performing arts
facilities in Leongatha South Gippsland Shire coun-
cillor Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks said, “My wife and
I and the grand children were at the opening night of
Mary Poppins, and it was a quite outstanding pro-
“A dedicated Performing Arts Centre (PAC) for
Leongatha is certainly a great aspirational goal, and
it may happen at some time, “ he said.
“I am on the Board of a medium sized Melbourne
private school that has just started building a new
PAC with seating for 750. The cost fully fitted out
will be a touch under $14 million. In that case the
project has the full support of all the school’s stake-
holders. So I am in touch with the issues around the
idea of a PAC, but I am not sure a majority of our
population would put one near the top of a priority
list, as much as I would like to see it.
“On returning to Council in 2012 I was ap-
pointed the Council’s representative on the Leon-
gatha Education Precinct (LEP), and I had the aim
of getting a major upgrade to Mesley Hall through
in this term of Council. Unfortunately this has not
happened, and not without trying hard.
“The issue is that I have not been able to find
any one person in the Education Department who
can make any decisions. If the land was Crown Land
it would be relatively easy, but because the Depart-
ment controls the land there are multiple people with
a finger in the pie.
“The Leongatha Secondary College do not want
the day to day management of the hall, but it still
wants to have the use of the ‘home economics’
room, and use of the hall for exams. Trying to find
a corporate structure that can take responsibility for
the hall, and have the ability to borrow or seek fund-
ing from various agencies has proved elusive, and
frankly I have found the issue most frustrating.
I believe enormous improvements could be made
to the hall, extending the stage out the back and on
the sides and new changing rooms underneath could
be accomplished for a fraction of the cost of a new
purpose made facility - say around $1.5 million.
If I am returned to Council at the October elec-
tions, I will seek to be appointed to the LEP Board
again to have another go at knocking heads together
at the Education Department!
Leongatha pushes for performing arts centre
Continued from page 1.
Taking on her first ever directing role for Lyric
Inverloch’s Louise Adkins will bring a wealth of
experience having performed in shows for Lyric
and Wonthaggi Theatrical Group and in demand
as a singing and dancing teacher.
Hairspray is an American musical featuring
1960s style dance music and downtown rhythm
The cultural feast does not stop there either
with The Great Southern Star Eisteddfod set to
hit the Mesley Hall next month where hundreds
of young dancers will compete from across
Gippsland and Melbourne.
With the wealth of talent in Leongatha and the
town providing a vibrant hub for education the push
now is for a dedicated performing arts centre.
For many years Leongatha has been overlooked
DISGRUNTLED residents converged
for Bass Coast Shire Council’s second
information session on Friday at Inver-
loch to discuss the proposed closure of
the Inverloch Transfer Station.
Ratepayers were fed more of the same with the
meeting part of the night wound up at 5.20pm with a
number of questions still needing to be answered.
The meeting continued on in a less formal basis
as an information session; while some residents re-
mained others decided they’d had enough and went
Mayor Cr Jordan Crugnale joined manager sus-
tainable environment Deirdre Griepsma and general
manager sustainable development and growth Al-
lison Jones in facilitating the information session
which intended to provide residents with answers to
their concerns of the proposed closure.
“Friday’s was the second of two information ses-
sions which came about to answer the questions of
the community. The public was given an opportu-
nity to discuss the proposal of the transfer station
which is due for closure in September 2017,” Cr
Council deferred the original submission to
close the transfer station at its last meeting and will
come to a decision at its August meeting following
the series of public consultation workshops.
“Council chose to defer the decision until Au-
gust to give the community a chance to talk with us
and so that we could answer any questions or con-
cerns,” Ms Jones said.
Many members of the public took the opportu-
nity to voice their disagreement with the submission
and gave many reasons as to why they felt the trans-
fer station should remain open.
Inverloch resident Kevin Griffin came forth once
again to state his concerns in a crowd of angry rate-
payers who took jabs at Council for its “poor com-
munication” and “irresponsible conduct”.
“Council did not keep the meeting open at its
first information session despite the fact many resi-
dents had not yet had their questions answered,” he
“Again on Friday, Council wanted to close the
meeting prior to the proposed 6pm before all ques-
tions were asked.”
Council chose to stop taking questions from the
entire floor at 5.20pm and split off so more residents
could address questions to the five officers present
in smaller group conversations.
Ross Smith told The Star “the mayor lost control
and either did not know the answers or just got tired
of constant criticism but she closed the meeting at
5.10pm in the midst of a series of questions from
Kevin Griffin. He has been deeply involved in re-
searching this vexed issue.”
“I am sure Bass Coast councillors have a death
wish about their future as so called representatives
of their communities,” Mr Smith said.
Inverloch’s Allan Peter questioned the environ-
mental factors which have lead to the potential clo-
sure of the transfer station.
“Who tested the water quality at Little Screw
Creek and deemed it polluted?” he asked.
“I worked with Water Watch for six years and
tested the water there and I never saw a problem
between 2000 and 2006. Little Screw Creek is per-
Wattle Bank resident Peter Dalmau agreed with
Mr Peter and said there was no sign of pollution in
the transfer station’s surrounding environment, de-
spite concerns from Council.
“There is no significant pollution coming out of
the transfer station,” he said.
“There is no smell or odour. Furthermore, Inver-
loch is the largest town in South Gippsland and we
deserve our station.”
Resident Chris Howard disputed Mr Peter and
Mr Dalmau’s claims the station does not produce
“If the Environmental Protection Agency came
here I think it would find significant changes to the
quality of water at Little Screw Creek,” he said.
“There have been significant changes to farming
up stream as well as increased rainfall. That and the
old tip would surely be filled with asbestos because
Inverloch was primarily built on asbestos 45 years
ago. It is not wrapped to regulation.”
Voicing concern: from left, Kevin Griffin and Peter Dalmau both took to the floor during
Bass Coast Shire Council’s Inverloch Transfer Station information session on Friday where
they both stated they did not want the station to close.
Tip produces more of the same
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