NORPA artistic director Julian Louis (third from left) conducts a tour of the renovated Lismore City Hall for Lismore councillors.
NORPA artistic director Julian Louis (third from left) conducts a tour of the renovated Lismore City Hall for Lismore councillors. The Northern Star

Curtain raises new era on city hall

LISMORE City Hall, which had to be closed for extensive repairs after last October's fierce hailstorm is back in business.

Over the next two months it will host such diverse entertainment as the Bell Shakespeare Company and Dorothy the Dinosaur.

NORPA, which manages the facility, had to move its offices out for five months and most of its shows were relocated to the Star Court Theatre.

"It's very exciting to be back under one roof," said artistic director Julian Louis.

In fact, the NORPA team is now under a totally new roof. The old one was made from asbestos and has been replaced, along with 30cm of topsoil from the garden which may have been contaminated with asbestos from the roof.

According to operations manager Karl Johnson, the one redeeming feature of an asbestos roof was its sound-proofing characteristics.

"The new tin roof had to be sprayed with a rubberised material, similar to that used in macadamia silos, to deaden the noise of heavy rain during a show," he said.

The windows on the southern side of the building were also replaced, along with the sprung dance floor in the studio space. A pipe had burst under the floor and repair crews had to dig through two concrete slabs to locate it.

Lismore Councillor Jenny Dowell, who was part of yesterday's tour of the renovated hall, said the hailstorm could have been a blessing in disguise.

"They say an ill wind blows no good, but I don't know when the council would have got around to replacing everything," Cr Dowell said.

The tour for councillors and State Member for Lismore Thomas George was not only to show them the work that had been completed, but also to show off the versatility of the building.

Apart from the 680-seat theatre, there are a number of smaller spaces which are booked out almost every day.

The City Hall was opened in 1964 and has been NORPA's home since 1993.

NORPA marketing manager Jeremy Sheaffe remembers seeing Skyhooks and Split Enz playing there in the 1970s, while his parents danced to the Stan Chilcott Big Band in the 1960s.


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