New era dawns for Lismore City Hall

Published on 28 May 2024

Image of Lismore City Hall

At this month's Council meeting, it was noted that NORPA would be stepping away from its facility management role of Lismore City Hall when it reopens.

Chair of the Cultural Alliance between NORPA and Lismore City Council, Councillor Peter Colby, said the Lismore City Council acknowledges the contribution NORPA makes to the region.

“Council and NORPA have had many positive discussions since the 2022 floods, about the vision for City Hall and this was a mutual decision brought about many factors,” he said. 

“I wish NORPA all the best for its future and look forward to future performance of their original works at City Hall.

“This change in management presents a wonderful opportunity to open up City Hall to allow more community groups to make use of this truly wonderful space.

“Council is currently considering future uses and management models for City Hall, ensuring it remains a valuable community place for arts, cultural performances and events such as the eisteddfod.”

NORPA Executive Director Libby Lincoln said NORPA will be sharing the highlights of our tenure at Lismore City Hall, as part of its 30-year celebrations.

“Our proudest achievement is nurturing the Lismore community into some of the boldest and most engaged theatre audiences in regional Australia.  We estimate over half a million people went through the building during our management”.

NORPA is planning to remain based in Lismore and will continue to focus on engaging its audiences, creating original theatre works, including site-specific works, and supporting creative development across the region. The company is committed to playing a key role in the cultural growth of the region.

“We are excited for our future. We continue to receive funding investment from State and Federal Government, and as such, must remain a contemporary and sustainable arts organisation,” she said.

“To successfully run and manage Lismore City Hall with a year-round season of curated performing arts requires considerable resources, ongoing investment and a shared vision for the future of the venue.

“The last four years, including Covid shutdowns and the flood, have strengthened our resolve to make original theatre that speaks of place and to share stories about the Northern Rivers and beyond.”

As a professional theatre company NORPA has always been an innovator. It has presented many of its original works in adventurous settings outside a traditional theatre venues to sold-out audiences, including the award-winning Love for One Night at The Eltham Hotel in 2022, Dreamland in local country halls in 2017 and 2019, Railway Wonderland at Lismore’s disused train station in 2012 and 2015. In September 2024 NORPA will be presenting the destination theatre event Wildskin at the Lismore Showground.

Lismore City Mayor Steve Krieg thanked NORPA for its guardianship of City Hall and said he looked forward to the next incarnation of this cultural landmark.

“Over the years, I like many people, have been entertained by great productions telling our local stories. I thank NORPA for this and know the story telling will continue through a model that will grow both their reputation and their audience,” he said.

Opened in 1965, then-Mayor Clyde Campbell described the purpose of the building was to enhance Lismore’s reputation as a city of arts and “to satisfy, as completely as possible, the cultural needs of the 20,000 or more residents of Lismore and the immediate surrounding districts.

The opening night gala concert featured piano, organ, and violin recitals, along with Spanish dancing, ballet and numerous other musical performances.

Throughout the 1960s City Hall was home to regular Saturday night dances and in the following two decades, it catered to a wide range of musical and cultural events, including concerts, debutante balls and weddings.

Work to repair City Hall is currently well underway with the building already cleaned and gutted, and now undergoing a fit-out funded by flood-restoration works grants and a $5.2 million Create NSW grant. Weather permitting, construction is expected to be completed next year.


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