Geelong Arts Centre officially open!

Image: Geelong Arts Centre, Photographer: John Gollings.

The Geelong Arts Centre is Australia’s largest regional arts centre and sits at the heart of the city’s burgeoning cultural precinct.

The Centre was officially opened on Friday 18 August with a red carpet event, featuring performances by Jessica Mauboy, Rachel Griffiths and Dilruk Jayasinha, and speeches by state and federal politicians among others. 

With the completion of the ARM Architecture-designed third and final stage of its redevelopment, the building now stands as a shining symbol of Geelong’s revival, reinvigorating the city as a vibrant hub of arts and culture.

ARM’s design reimagines the traditional idea of a theatre by eschewing the conventional black box hidden behind an imposing façade. Instead, it embraces openness, transparency, and a delightful lack of pretension, inviting a fun and engaging experience for all.

Theatre consultant Charcoalblue provided comprehensive auditorium design and theatre planning scope, alongside a full suite of technical design for all the Geelong Arts Centre performance spaces.



“Each element of the external design is enriched with a story of its own, whether that be visual references relating back to performance, the historical context of the site, or to Wadawurrung culture and traditions,” says ARM Founding Director, Ian McDougall.

In keeping with the wider precinct’s campus-like layout, the centre has been designed as a collection of captivating destinations, each with its own unique design narrative. These spaces seamlessly connect new and existing facilities, forming a dynamic pathway from Ryrie Street to Little Malop Street.

To foreground the voices of the local First Nations community, ARM collaborated closely with Wadawurrung artist Kait James and talented local First Nations artists, Tarryn Love, Gerard Black, and Mick Ryan to showcase First Nations stories throughout the campus.

Image below: ‘We wanted multiple reasons for people to come into the building.’ Photograph: Ellen Smith/The Guardian

Worimi-born, Wadawurrung-based artist Gerard Black, in front of his eel artwork. Photograph: Peter Foster

The landscape spaces (Little Malop Street entry plaza and the central courtyard space) were a collaboration with TCL and Wadawurrung, interpreting the theme of Ochre Country.

Each of the building’s four levels evokes a different Wadawurrung creation narrative. From the Earth and Ochre Country on the ground level to the enchanting Moonah Forest Country, Sky Country, and Night Sky Country on the levels above, the design eloquently narrates the tale of Djilang (Geelong). It pays homage to the site’s history as a place of performance, which dates back thousands of years.

There are many references to post-colonial histories too, with the atrium ceilings, golden Calliope-shaped entry and curtain-like concrete façade paying homage to Victoria’s early travelling circuses.

The Geelong Arts Centre is a jubilant celebration of everything that makes Geelong unique. It breathes life into the city’s artistic spirit, providing a canvas for creativity to flourish and resonate with all who enter its doors.

Read the Guardian Australia’s coverage of the opening here.