Melbourne's 'School of Rock' never had it so good. Northern College of Arts & Technology has certainly done it tough at times. In fact, back in the early '90s, then-premier Jeff Kennett's razor gang closed the school down. Students kept showing up and the dedicated teachers kept teaching, even after the department had closed the coffers and padlocked most of the buildings.
Sitting in NCAT's brand new creative arts building, all that seems like ancient history. It's an $11.5m state-of-the-art facility for music and fine arts students, packed with spaces for students (Year 10 to 12) to learn, rehearse and nurture their creativity.
The jewel in the crown of NCAT's gleaming new creative arts building is the live performance space. It's a flat floor studio with retractable raked seating. The audio component of the installation is high-spec with an Adamson S7 PA and S118 subs filling the room. The PA is powered by Lab.gruppen amplifiers.
The control room packs a Yamaha CL1 digital mixing console linked to the Yamaha Rio3224-D2 stagebox via a Dante audio-over-IP network.
A motorised truss grid (controlled by Customised Project Solutions gear) allows music industry students to learn about rigging of the PA and the lighting. The full drapes package, together with the lighting package adds a sense of visual wow to accompany the audio wow.
The final touch is a huge motorised projection screen and a ceiling-mounted high-lumens Epson projector for presentation purposes.
Spend any time in NCAT's performance space and you get a real sense that this is a working theatre, not just a hall for school assemblies and presentation night. It's designed with industry standard equipment for students to get a real-world sense of how it might be to perform and work in a commercial theatre.
The Adamson S7 PA sounds amazing balanced and appropriate for the space with plenty of guts when required.
That sense of living in the real world extends to all aspects of the new building. Walk past the new rehearsal spaces and recording studios of NCAT's new creative arts facility and you won't hear the highly-drilled sounds of a cello concerto or an operatic aria, but you will hear super-talented young people jamming and bands rehearsing. That's of course unless the acoustic isolation doors are closed. It's that type of school: a real-world music industry education provided by passionate teachers who live it and love it.
The installation was designed, installed and commissioned by Melbourne based AV contractors Installation Theatrical Engineering (ITE). With over 40 years' experience in live venue installations across Australia, ITE's ability to coordinate with architects, builders, user groups and suppliers has led to a result that has left a smile on all who have had the opportunity to experience this "School of Rock".
Performance Space Audio Spec:
14 x Adamson S7 Line Source
4 x Adamson S118 Subwoofers
2 x Lab.gruppen D120
1 x Lab.gruppen D80