The ongoing community push to get a viable Performance Arts Centre in Batemans Bay continues. It could bring business and reputation to the town and, if an iconic renovation or development was made on the Mackay Park northern end of the precinct, it would be a visual demonstration of our pride in our Arts community in the shire.
At 13 June 2017 Council meeting the report on possible interim use or demolition of the ex- Bowling Club in Batemans’ Bay was tabled.
Dr Susan Mackenzie addressed council re interim use of the Bowling Club for the Performance Arts and Community use.
Dr Susan Mackenzie, who is Vice president, PerfEx and Alternate Member of Sunset Committee addressed several points of concern that suggest there is more community and Council discussion needed about the options being considered for the old Bowling Club building.
Based on Council costings, the difference between demolition and interim use would reflect a Council investment amounting to c.$60,000pa for four years. This could be a viable and acceptable expenditure in our community’s future vitality and commercial success, especially with the distinct possibility of this cost being offset by the sale of the tourist centre (and/or community centre) or by income from various other sources (through council/rates and support; State, Federal or community grants; community and business support; and commercial operations such as the proposed use now under consideration by council of the commercial, on-site kitchen; and other commercial activity within the building) . The costings given by council in the report show no significant offsets in relation to interim use.
The good news is that, as of Thursday, 15 June 2017, two days later, “through the new Regional Cultural Fund, the NSW Government is investing $100 million into regional towns and cities to develop new and existing arts and culture projects.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, said in his media release this fund will help to attract major cultural productions to regional NSW by investing in projects that often miss out on funding to metropolitan areas.
“The Regional Cultural Fund will invest in new arts and cultural facilities and can be used to upgrade existing spaces including galleries, theatres, libraries, museums and halls.” Mr Barilaro said.”
Would it not be better to refurbish the Bowling club as a Community Arts Centre for the next 5-10 years and then re-develop it? That would give the Community, the Council and the Arts Communities in this and associated Shires time to be clearer on their needs and aspirations for the project.
It would also give council time to plan the expenditure over a longer period of time and not deal with a huge impost in one go without absolute clarity of intent and outcome. And, if the Aquatic Centre is a likely immediate project, there would not be two major expenditures together.
A PPP that may not involve or even sideline the community would result in enormous dissatisfaction and distress in the community over the potential of the building as a community creative hub.
At the council meeting of the 13th June 2017, Dr Mackenzie said:
“While it is true Council must adhere to certain rules and regulations and optimise opportunities to apply for grants to facilitate Shire projects, this building and its use is not just a practicality and its future should not be decided on fiscal notions alone.
The former Bateman’s Bay Bowling Club building is an icon to the community; a representation of a hope and aspiration, held for many years, to have a viable Performance/Arts/Community facility there,” said Dr Mackenzie.
The Arts community do not doubt operation of the site is financially sustainable, and want to work with council to make the most of the assets we have to create a thriving Arts Precinct and community hub at Mackay Park
Trust was placed in Council in the re-categorisation of the precinct to ‘operational’ land, opening the way for Public/Private partnerships (PPP) as part of making this possible. Consequently, the site and venue also represent a community-perceived IOU that the community is waiting to be honoured
Quoting our Mayor Liz Inness: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us as a community” and, yes we must consider that it is affordable now and into the future, but also “that it meets the needs of the community” now and into the future too.