Project Background - Saltwater Busselton (Performing Arts and Convention Centre)


A Cultural Mapping Report was undertaken by the then Shire of Busselton. Through consultation with 140 community members the mapping identified the need for purpose built arts buildings clustered with arts, culture, tourism, retail and commercial offerings in an integrated development of a Cultural Precinct.

The report noted that, “arts and culture can be an important catalyst to foster interaction. A friendly and connected lifestyle is an important factor in the charm of a place. Culture is an important bridge between old industrial economies and new knowledge and creative economies. Successful urban centres must be able to apply places for the old, the new and also build in transition processes for communities. Arts and culture are popular mediums to work with change whilst still maintaining a sense of belonging.”


242 people were engaged in consultation for the development of the Cultural Plan which identified the need to encourage and increase support for young people to be involved in arts and culture initiatives, and the need for a purpose built building for the arts with a mixture of commercial and community organisations to assist in the viability of the building.

The Cultural Plan contained a Vision for when the population of the District reaches 42,000 with three major townships – Busselton, Dunsborough and Vasse.

The Vision depicted “the Cultural Precinct with its historical interpretive collections, re-enactments, workshops, cosy performances and exhibitions has become a national icon. This was the first such local cultural location to take off but now visitors and locals alike draw inspiration from these local niches in each town. 

Young people can now come home to Busselton, Dunsborough, Vasse, Yallingup and surrounding villages because there is a sustainable future here based on the culture: the creative, environmental, social and innovative economic features and the community values that this region has been built on.”

The City now has a population of over 40,000. The pace of growth, particularly in young families now sees under 25 year olds equalling that of seniors. The District will reach 42,000 in the next two years at which point the Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre (BPACC) will be established.


A Feasibility Study for a Performing Arts and Creative Industries Centre engaged 103 people to review possible locations upon which the Centre could be developed.


A Cultural Needs Assessment Report engaged with 522 community members and found that “this facility would be welcomed in the local community as long overdue. The need is becoming more critical as the City develops further. It would be a valuable focus point for all parts of the community and the development of the potential of that community, as evidenced in the research for this Project.

This facility in its proposed location (the Cultural Precinct), would encompass both performing and some visual arts capacity in terms of gallery space. It would also be in proximity to cross art form work through other cultural facilities and arts organisations located in the Cultural Precinct.”


The project has been included in the City’s Strategic Community Plan with successive annual budgets investing in further research, feasibility reports, project planning and stakeholder engagement. This extensive planning has produced over ten different concept designs and three market demand economic impacts assessment reports, cost benefit analysis and business cases seeking State and Federal Government funding.


In 2019, $10.35 million in funding was secured from the Federal Government.


After a design competition, which engaged seven renowned firms, Council awarded the design tender to Kerry Hill Architects. An extended period of consultation with key stakeholders and industry representatives informed design development and tender specifications resulting in the inclusion of a new gallery space and additional multi-purpose function rooms. An updated Business Case and funding application was submitted to the State Government.


A funding contribution was made by Rio Tinto and a Lotterywest funding application submitted.

In June, tenders for construction were received. All were well over the forecast budget due to COVID recovery stimulus incentives. Further community consultation on the future of the project was undertaken, including an optional modified design. A decision to proceed with the full design was made by Council in September and in November Council approved the award of the construction contract to Broad Construction PTY Ltd.


In January the contract with Broad was signed and construction commenced. The first sod was turned in February.

A further funding application was submitted to the Federal Government Building Better Regions Scheme Round 6 for the new gallery but was unsuccessful.

Several meetings took place with Lotterywest which resulted in a funding contribution of $1.8million towards the new gallery, Weld Theatre back of house upgrade and integration works, dressing rooms, green room and meeting room.


Thank you to our funding sponsors:


If you've encountered a problem with the website or have any general feedback, please provide comment via this form.

Was this page helpful?

Get Audio Code