LOCAL theatre group FAMDA has received a $50,000 State Government grant to complete much needed upgrades to audience seating at the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre (FWMAC).
Minister for Regional Development, the Hon Jaala Pulford, visited FWAC on Monday to share the good news with FAMDA members and supporters that the group’s application for a Regional Development Fund grant was successful.
The $50,000 from Regional Development Victoria (RDV), along with contributions from the South Gippsland Shire Council ($10,000), FAMDA ($10,000), QUBE Energy ($8000), the Gardiner Dairy Foundation ($5000), the Toora and Foster Community Bank branches ($5000), Foster Rotary Club ($2000), and FWMAC ($1000) will enable FAMDA to purchase manoeuvrable retractable tiered seating for use in FWMAC.
Up until now, FAMDA’s tiered seating has been in the form of rostra built 25 years ago for a production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.
FAMDA president Tania Pell described the wooden boxes, which were stored in a shed outside the hall between productions, as “heavy and, even with a fork-lift, awkward and time-consuming to assemble”.
Not only that, says Ms Pell, the boxes and their “flimsy” banisters did not comply with today’s occupational health and safety standards, particularly for the volunteers doing the assembly, but also for audience members.
Ms Pell decommissioned the rostra in 2017 and set about researching and sourcing funds for modern retractable seating that could be permanently stationed inside the hall.
She says the support of local groups was vital to enabling FAMDA to qualify for the RDV grant, and that FAMDA has now secured all the funding to proceed with the purchase of new seating immediately.
“The RDV grant is fantastic news,” Ms Pell said, describing the new seating as “a significant project of benefit to our local community” and “a win for everyone”.
“It’s a win for the FAMDA volunteers who no longer have to manhandle the old heavy rostra,” she said.
“It’s a win for our audiences who can enjoy the view in the comfort of safe elevated seating.
“It’s a win for the community and all hall users who will be able to use the tiered seating available in the hall for events such as dance concerts, school presentation nights, seminars and other forms of entertainment.”
FAMDA hopes the extra flexibility of hall use provided by the availability of the tiered seating will attract other organisations to utilise FWMAC, and encourage audiences to attend performances and events confident they’ll get a good view of all proceedings.