Work is well under way on the renovation of the Ipswich Baptist Church near McDonald’s. It is being turned into a new community performance space especially for young performers.
Work is well under way on the renovation of the Ipswich Baptist Church near McDonald’s. It is being turned into a new community performance space especially for young performers. David Nielsen

Church to be performing arts spot

THE much-anticipated transformation of the former Ipswich Baptist Church into a community performance venue is only months away.

The church in the Top of Town section of Brisbane St is next to the 24/7 McDonald's restaurant that opened in December 2009.

As part of its application to build the store, McDonald's pledged to restore the disused church and hand it to the community.

In January 2009 McDonald's added a tasty topping to the deal, pledging $50,000 towards renovating inside the 133-year-old building.

Since then, Ipswich City Council had been able to garner financial support from the Federal Government to help make a dream become reality.

The council said the project was due to be finished in September/October and would be opened shortly afterwards as a state-of-the art performance space especially for use by organisations working with young people.

"The renovation and restoration is being made possible with the assistance of $1.5 million of Federal Government funding under the Better Regions Program. The upgrade includes $500,000 for staging, lighting and sound," councillor Charlie Pisasale said.

"In-kind and cash was contributed by McDonald's.

"Initial booking enquiries are being taken by Ipswich Civic Centre, which will oversee the running of the new centre.

"While the focus of use will be on arts and performance by and for young people, council is open to ideas and suggestions from the community."

Cr Pisasale said the venue would be a shared facility and was not intended for full-time use by a single group or individual.

When the Top of Town McDonald's opened, regional manager Nick Fischer said it had bolstered the region's economy during construction and there would be an ongoing wages boost.

He said construction by Ipswich builder TP Turner created about 80 additional jobs for local workers, and it would inject more than $1 million a year into the area in the form of staff wages.



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