There has been a lot going on backstage at Oberon's iconic Malachi Gilmore Hall.
The Malachi stands in the centre of Oberon and its extraordinary architecture has always grabbed the attention of the town. The Hall's role in the history of Oberon's social life is a treasured memory and this April, the Malachi will open its doors to play its part in the town's social life once again. The hall will launch as a performance exhibition and film screening venue.
The Malachi operated as cinema, dance hall and event venue from 1937-1977. It was unoccupied from from its closure in 1977 until 1984. From 1985, the auditorium was used as light industrial unit by Betta Wool handlers and the foyer was blocked off and occupied by Cobweb Craft Shop until early 2018.
Owners Lucy and Johnny East bought the building in 2017. Lucy's great uncle was the first projectionist at the Malachi many years ago. Lucy said she has a strong connection to the building and to Oberon.
"It's all about reactivating it as a performing and visual arts space," Lucy said.
"We privately own it, but we're really building it so that the community has arts back in Oberon. And that's really exciting. The town's pretty pumped about it, too."
It has taken three years of planning, development and building works to bring the Art Deco hall up to comply with today's stringent standards.
Doug Booth and his team at Maranatha Constructions have risen to the multiple challenges that the eighty-five year old building has revealed, including leaking concrete roofs and damage by invasive ivy. Local plumbers, painters and installers have been constructing new amenities ready for the audiences. The team at Sparks Electrical have climbed all over the building rewiring it for its future purposes.
Lucy and Johnny have steered the project through the challenges that are inevitable when working with a State Heritage listed building. Mrs East said the passion to see the Malachi reactivated as a vibrant space for community and creativity hasn't wained through the past years.
"The hall is coming back to life and the interior is looking and sounding wonderful. It's been a team effort with everyone involved recognising that the Malachi holds an important place in the heart of Oberon," she said.
"What we're planning to do at the Malachi is really an extension of what used to happen in there. So there were dancers, and there was cinema, there wasn't much visual art being shown, but they had a few exhibitions, that rollerskating, which were not doing - not at this point anyway.
"So that should really plug a little bit of a gap that's in that circle around there, plus make a really great connection to what the building used to be."
Events are planned to start on April 9 with the premier performance of a dance show. There is also series of country music concerts called the Malachi Nights throughout 2022.
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