Festival Hall, one of Melbourne’s most iconic concert spaces, has been sold to Hillsong, the Australian-based Christian megachurch known for employing uplifting pop-style music at its services. Brian Houston, a close friend of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, founded the church in 1983 with his wife Roberta. He announced the sale on Youtube earlier today.
“By God’s grace we’ve been able to purchase Festival Hall,” he said, noting that Hillsong has been pursuing the site since early 2019. It’s acquired it under a newly formed entity, Community Venues, and paid $23 million, according to The Age.
“Hillsong Church will be the anchor tenant,” Houston said. “In other words, every Sunday night or Sunday morning or whenever we have church, it will be our venue. But we’re going to continue running it as a community venue. It’s to reach the community.”
Hillsong will renovate the site in coming months. There’s no word yet on what that means for the main, 5000-capacity concert space, but Houston says that provided permits can be acquired, the church will potentially build, at one end of Festival Hall, “two or three floors where we can have a kids’ ministry and all of the other things that connect to week-to-week having church”.
Located in West Melbourne, Festival Hall has hosted the likes of the Beatles, Midnight Oil, Powderfinger, Foals, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, INXS, AC/DC, The Strokes, Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins and many, many more bands in its 100-year history.
Watch the announcement below.