The Body Voice Centre was established in Footscray (Melbourne, Australia) in 1994 in what had been the Footscray Squash Centre.
The Centre includes a large (9 x 12m) rehearsal studio known as Helen’s Studio in memory of Helen Sharp. Helen’s studio has 6m ceilings, plenty of natural light from the north-facing windows, a polished floor and upstairs a viewing gallery.
There is also a smaller (6 x 9m) carpeted studio with a large balcony room, and a music room in what once was the women’s showers. The small studio now has a wet bar for art activities.
There are associated toilet and kitchen facilities which have been recently renovated and upgraded. The studios and facilities are available for hire to performers and others in related fields.
Casual hire rates are $30 an hour for the large studio and $20 for the small studio. Rates are lower for ongoing bookings, whole days and so on. Email the Centre for details.
A brief history of the studio
We started converting two of the old squash courts into a studio in 1994. It took years, but the really big dirty job was taking down the wall. After six months of planning and preparation almost 40 people – friends, family, and colleagues – came and helped demolish the double skin besser brick wall over two weekends in March 1995 (see pics below). This involved moving 11 tonnes of bricks – the wall was 20 foot high and went down below floor level. It was load bearing at one end so a steel beam was then put up one wall and the roof truss had an extension welded into it according to the specifications of a structural engineering report. Tie rods were also inserted across the ceiling to ensure building stability should there ever be a hurricane. We found a source of the narrow double thickness Tasmanian oak floorboards to fill in where the wall had been and match the original flooring.
Over the next few years, a door entrance was cut out so the doorway was no longer a tiny squash court door, the walls were painted white over the thousands of black crescent marks from squash balls, the ceiling was painted by a couple of long suffering volunteers on scaffolding towers. The huge hot water storage system for 9 showers was removed from the upper balcony, and eventually the upper north wall was opened up and large windows put in. Various efforts to stop the rain running down the interior walls and through holes in the roof have been more or less successful. Some years later we made and installed the staircase and polished the floor. The original squash court fluorescent light banks were finally replaced in 2013 by more elegant lighting, now updated to LED.
The Centre has a 4.3kw array of solar panels on the high roof, usually plenty to power the whole place.
In the summer break of 2016-17 we installed a new skylight in the studio kitchen, removing a lot of the old ceiling tiles, installing insulation, a new plaster ceiling, updating the power and lighting, cleaning and repainting, and covering the old tiled floor that had been breaking up for some years with rubber tiles.