In 1925 the YMCA opened its headquarters on this site, on the banks of the Yarra River. In 1983, structural damage caused by the construction of the Roy Grounds designed Arts Centre and Concert Hall meant that the building needed to be demolished. The land was acquired by the State of Victoria as Crown Land and is reserved for arts purposes.
Since October 2013, Testing Grounds has provided Melbourne with an alternative arts space within the arts precinct. It has seen hundreds of artists show their work and has provided a space for experimental and emerging ideas to find a voice.
Testing Grounds has provided a backdrop for education and ideas-generation across a range of subjects — ideas around architecture, urban planning and community development have all been tried and tested on this strange triangle of land. It has allowed artists, students, producers and directors, painters and poets a space to take a chance, to extend their ideas and craft and make significant connections with new audiences. It has also provided the local Southbank community an open space to explore and enjoy, to walk a dog or let children play, or to just sit in a patch of sunlight for a minute and witness the beginning of a new art form.
In November 2016, Testing Grounds re-opened with upgraded infrastructure including 4 dedicated indoor spaces, and a large multipurpose outdoor area.
While the site’s long term future is still currently undetermined, Testing Grounds continues to occupy the site for the short term, providing an alternative place for creative activities, alongside more traditional venues in the precinct.