BAW BAW // NEW seating for the West Gippsland Arts Centre approved at this week’s council meeting will meet new standards required to accommodate the nation’s growing waistlines.
Above: WGAC staff members Jayson Bowles and Debbie Giles trying out new seating options on display during the community consultation period. Photo: William PJ Kulich.
First published in the 11 September 2015 print edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Dates are relative to then.
Councillors approved the purchase of 510 new seats to replace those presently in the theatre at a cost of $253,564 following community consultation on design options.
The consultation involved five seat options being set up in the council-run centre’s foyer for visitors to try out and give feedback on.
A key difference between the old and new seats is their width. Community services director Liana Thompson explained why.
“Bigger chairs are the new standard,” she told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
“The standard for the chairs we’ve got is smaller. The new ones will be bigger.”
But wider seats does not mean fewer in the theatre. The total number will rise from around 490 to 510.
“We’ve actually had to change the layout of the theatre to have no middle aisle. There will be a handrail assisted aisle and chairs will be in a continual arc,” Ms Thompson said.
“This is a very common way of doing it.”
The need for new seats might not be apparent for casual visitors to the Arts Centre, but it will make a big difference.
“This is quite a big thing for this community,” Ms Thompson said.
“For 30 years we’ve had three aisles, now we will have two but with great access across the front and back of the theatre.
“The chairs have been there for 30 years. They’ve done their job.
“Recently people have been falling through them. Some have been repaired a lot.
“The new ones are all-Australian, and modular too. We can actually buy spare parts for them. The old ones were all one unit and [had to be completely removed to be repaired].”
The extra seats will be a bonus for the Arts Centre, which regularly sells out shows.
Another big change at the WGAC will be the council taking over operation of the on-site café.
Debritz Catering, Café and Restaurant has operated on the site for the last nine years but the manager has recently taken on a new project.
“We are very excited to announce that although we are leaving the Arts Centre, we will be taking our business out to Neerim South and taking over the Kings Arms Hotel,” a Debritz spokesperson said on social media.
Baw Baw planning and economic development director Matthew Cripps said there will be changes.
“The café will be closed from 28 September until 12 October so we can make minor refurbishments to the café/bar area,” he said in a media release.
“A limited service of complimentary tea and coffee [will be provided] during this time.
“After [that], the WGAC will continue to operate a daily café space where guests can enjoy coffee and light meals as well as the usual pre-show, interval and post show beverage.
“At this stage we will be unable to offer restaurant meals in the café… but we have taken the opportunity instead to showcase the great local food Warragul restaurants offer.”
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