Campaign to redevelop community theatre

April 19, 2024 BY

Overhaul: The J.B. Osborne Theatre is the subject of a redevelopment push headed by the Kangaroo Flat Community Enterprise. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE Kangaroo Flat Community Enterprise (KFCE) is leading a push to overhaul Crusoe College’s J.B. Osborne Theatre.

To gather support for the ambitious redevelopment project, KFCE is running a petition until April 30 aimed at securing State Government funding.

The petition can be viewed and signed at parliament.vic.gov.au/get-involved/petitions/funding-for-the-refurbishment-of-jb-osborne-theatre/.

Once the petition closes, KFCE will seek talks with the Education Department and the government to get the redevelopment moving.

Owned by the department and administered by the college, the 382-seat theatre was opened in 1978 and is named in honour of the second principal of the former Kangaroo Flat Secondary College.

It was used as a theatre space by schools and hired by community groups for performances and other events, but was declared redundant in 2010 when a ‘black box’ theatre was incorporated into the new Crusoe College.

While the college still makes some use of it, the theatre has had minimal maintenance and has fallen into disrepair – it leaks, has rotting floors and ceilings, no heating and dangerous electrical systems – and community use has steadily declined.

The KFCE wants to return the building to a condition where it can be used as a creative, multi-purpose arts venue for schools, community groups and residents.

Redevelopment: An example of the run-down condition of facilities inside the J.B. Osborne Theatre. Photo: SUPPLIED


Already, Crusoe College needs more space for weekly drama classes, and other schools and sporting groups have expressed interest in its revival. When it is finished, the theatre will feature a cinema, community theatre space, indoor sports facilities, and more.

The project has received in-principle support from City of Greater Bendigo councillors, local state MPs and various community groups.

KFCE vice-president Neil Dyson said a project committee was being formed now and, while a total redevelopment cost had not been determined, it would be “significant”.

Mr Dyson said that a timeline for completion also had not been arrived at because arranging funding was a primary initial step.

“The petition is the first major step in demonstrating to the State Government that there is broad community support for restoration of the theatre,” he said. “We really would like several thousand (signatures).

“We really urge people to get online and … sign the petition, because it is a community asset that is sitting there dormant, and it can do so much.”