Construction of the Ararat Arts Precinct will begin later this month following a $1.5 million state government injection into the project.
The latest funding is on top of the Andrews government’s existing $5.2 million investment into the cultural hub, which is expected to be completed mid-2018.
Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford also announced the appointment of building firm Nicholsons to deliver the precinct.
Ms Pulford met with Ararat Rural City mayor Paul Hooper on Thursday and confirmed the $7.73 million project would create 19 construction jobs and five full-time jobs once complete.
Ararat’s historic Town Hall will be redeveloped, enhancing the Ararat Performing Arts Centre and the Ararat Regional Art Gallery, both housed in the building.
The project includes a new public entrance to the Ararat Regional Art Gallery, expanding and enhancing art gallery and performance spaces, upgrading public amenities, upgrading the Ararat Performing Arts Centre foyer and a new box office, a new cafe and bar, and landscaping upgrades.
All existing spaces will be refurbished to make them accessible for people of all abilities. New glazing, insulation and climate controls will be installed to maximise building efficiency, and improvements will be undertaken to the loading bay, car parks and driveways.
The enhanced facilities, along with expanded display and storage spaces, will further Ararat’s reputation as a cultural tourism destination, capable of developing and attracting ambitious, blockbuster programs, Ms Pulford said.
It will increase the town’s ability to attract major exhibitions and nationally recognised performers to the region, providing a boost to the local economy and creating jobs, she said.
“Victoria’s arts and cultural scene don't just stop on the edge of Melbourne. This announcement well and truly puts Ararat on the map as a cultural, performing arts and tourism destination not to miss,” Ms Pulford said.
Cr Hooper said the community was excited about the arts precinct project.
“It’s incredibly heartening to note the support we have received from government and also from the broader community, all of which is helping bring this vision to reality,” Cr Hooper said.