ANAM to enter into 50-year lease on South Melbourne Town Hall

At a meeting on 15 March, City of Port Phillip Councillors voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of Council Officers to enter into a new Lease of up to 50 years with the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) at the South Melbourne Town Hall.

As part of the new arrangement ANAM will invest $40m in the refurbishment and renewal of the building over the coming 20 years (with a further $10m for specific ANAM fit-out). ANAM’s plans build on Council’s $15m+ investment to secure the structural integrity of the building, and bring it to a compliant, tenantable condition.

ANAM’s $40m will halt the decline of this landmark building, and deliver:

  • Security for a major piece of education infra-structure for the State of Victoria;
  • Two state-of-art performance venues (for music, dance, drama, comedy, receptions);
  • A catering kitchen for functions and events;
  • Improved front-of-house amenity, including a café/bar;
  • Extra rehearsal studios;
  • A greener building, with improved insulation and energy efficiencies;
  • Heritage-based refurbishment and refresh;
  • Jobs and increased economic activity for the precinct.

Under the lease ANAM will be responsible for the building’s routine maintenance. Council will be responsible for capital and major services maintenance and renewal. ANAM will also pay rent to the City of Port Phillip.

The lease commits ANAM to providing special rates for community hire of the public facilities. ANAM will also establish the South Melbourne Town Hall Cultural Fund – with $1 from each ticket sold for every event in the building – to be made available via public application process to support cultural activity in the area.

ANAM has committed to providing a Council facility in the building – community meeting rooms or support services – depending on what Council decides to be the highest priority. ANAM will provide much needed office accommodation at the Town Hall for Victorian small-to-medium cultural organisations.

The project itself and flow-on activity of community groups, ANAM, and other cultural organisations will lead to more jobs and economic activity in the precinct. The Cost-Benefit Analysis completed by Sustainable East as part of ANAM’s Business Case submitted to the Victorian Government estimates a $1.88 return to the community on every dollar invested.

The decision of Port Phillip Councillors followed their consideration of the more than 560 submissions received in a recent public consultation about the proposal. The local Port Phillip community overwhelmingly supported ANAM remaining in the Town Hall for up to 50 years, with 91% of respondents in favour of the proposal, 4% opposed, and 5% unsure.

With the decision in place, ANAM can focus on raising the necessary funds required to realise its plans. It has already raised $15m (including $12.5m from the Commonwealth Government). Members of Melbourne’s philanthropic community have expressed enthusiasm for the plans, and have indicated that they are keen to support the redevelopment if the Victorian Government joins the project with a commitment to match the Commonwealth Government funding.ANAM’s discussions with the Victorian Government are continuing.

About ANAM’s proposal:


John Daley, Chair, ANAM Board said:

“We are delighted that Council and the community have thrown their support behind ANAM’s vision for the South Melbourne Town Hall. By working together, we can rejuvenate this magnificent building. It’s a huge commitment to the future – many of the ANAM musicians who will be training in the Town Hall and the members of the local community who will be able to enjoy their music-making haven’t even been born yet.ANAM is an internationally acclaimed leader in the education and training sector, In the words of conductor Simone Young “an extraordinary institution”. This major investment in the education fabric of the State secures Victoria’s reputation as the country’s leading music education and training capital for the next half century.

It will be exciting to make the Town Hall into a world-class venue appropriate for one of the best music education institutions in the world: many of the world’s finest musicians come to ANAM, and we are certain that they will be inspired by this great building.

We are also looking forward to returning to the South Melbourne community. For the past 15 years ANAM has been an outward-facing, community-minded, organisation. Our musicians lead projects in local primary schools, perform in nursing homes, mentor the schoolies group, and contribute to community festivals. It takes a village to grow a musician, and it is important for ANAM’s musicians to be part of the village that surrounds them.

An inviting, busy and iconic Town Hall – a building that should be on the “must see” list of every visitor to Melbourne – will create jobs and rejuvenate the local retail and hospitality industries.To be entrusted with the care of this wonderful building is humbling. Council’s decision will ensure that Emerald Hill continues to be an important place for gathering and for culture, as it has been for tens of thousands of years”.

Port Phillip Council Mayor Heather Consolo said:

“The lease will secure the long-term future of what has been a much-loved landmark for 140 years.

We’re excited that ANAM’s presence will further enhance South Melbourne’s reputation as a vibrant, cultural hub for both visitors and our community.

The investment required under the lease also means this impressive building can reopen and again provide a focal point for community gatherings and events as well as hosting civic functions such as Council meetings and citizenship ceremonies.”