Dr Susan Mackenzie was the guest speaker at the recent Batemans Bay Rotary meeting at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club.
Asked to speak on the History of Perfex Dr Mackenzie advised that Perfex is a lobby group, initiated by Jeannie Brewer, campaigning for a Performance and Visual Arts facility in the Bay for some 13 years. The talk inevitably focussed on the ups and downs of that journey being the two false starts that proposed the facility, firstly at Hanging Rock and then the Old Batemans Bay Bowling Club sites. The current push (well on its way) for the Performing and Visual Arts facility Council is proposed for Mackay Park.
Dr Mackenzie said she believed the key points that came out of the role of lobbying by Perfex were the need to meet the community’s needs, and not to have the community feel they might lose a facility such as the Community Centre as a consequence of their desire to see a Performance and Visual Arts facility established. The meeting learnt that while Council press ahead to 'replicate' the meeting rooms and amenities the multiple functions of the Community Hall it also provides the only public toilets away from the foreshore, which service visitors to the Watergardens as well as Centre users, as well as being the centre for Meals on Wheels, who are not going to be accommodated in the new centre.
An apocryphal story from the audience spoke of a fantastic arts facility at Castle Hill in Sydney that was opened with fanfare, barely used and then demolished some years later. Why? Because it was too expensive for the locals to use, and there were too many rules (and staff needed) for each booking.
Dr Mackenzie told the meeting that recently Lindsay Usher, the Director of Planning from Eurobodalla Council, gave a talk prior to the Perfex AGM. "In that he said they were working towards the final plans for the Mackay Park centre. There are some significant changes since the three concept plans from early this year." said Dr Mackenzie.
"The latest plan is to only have one story, with are no plans for a second. The theatre reverts to a flat floor and retractable seating. There will be no piano and no commercial/fully functional kitchen. No technology equipment will be included for tech-Arts."
Mr Usher had, from what we were told, advised Perfex that the Mackay Park Centre must to be financially viable as well as loved and used by the community to make it viable. Yet Mr Usher said there would be no piano provided, no tech equipment and no commercial kitchen.
Dr Mackenzie expanded on the proposed theatre saying "With a 350 seat theatre planned, about the only school it could hold for end of year activities or concerts is the Mogo primary, and most schools have something similar. What touring groups will come must be small and flexible. But without a piano, which music group – visiting or local – will use it? Without a fully functional kitchen where is Meals on Wheels to go? Functions and self-catering events - the norm in this small community –will be held elsewhere. What tech-savvy youth will use the facility if there is Wifi but no equipment?" "Without good foundations for a second story, how will the centre expand? What of the future? This is a community project and the role of the community and its representative is vital in passing on not just the needs of the locals, but the key to us embracing the Centre." Dr Mackenzie expanded on her presentation saying "The role of Perfex continues in its liaison with Council and community. In that regards, Council were commended for their ongoing efforts to fulfill the 2010 Council-funded study that stated that Batemans Bay needed an arts’ hub as a matter of ‘immediate priority’, and for procuring the $51 million presently available for the combined Aquatic Arts Centre project."
During the Rotary talk the success of Sculpture For the Clyde and The River of Art events were celebrated noting that both were community initiated projects that brought out the vibrant, but largely unseen Arts practitioners in the area. "It is events like these that show the possibilities for the new centre, if it is welcoming, affordable, practical and accessible." Dr Mackenzie said.
Dr Mackenzie, on behalf of Perfex, also thanked all those community members who have contributed in any way to keeping the dream alive of a viable, community-loved Performance and Visual Arts facility in the Bay, whether by signing petitions, attending fundraising events, being members, being on the committee; attending presentations and fundraising efforts, and contributing ideas, and supporting the project through funds or in kind.
She said Perfex had been thrilled when the first Grant for the centre was announced by Andrew Constance in the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club, in March 2018, when PerfEx and the Batemans Bay Aquatic Centre group were specifically acknowledged as being the reasons why Council had been successful in gaining the grants, as both groups had worked so long and hard to achieve their aims.
Dr Mackenzie made a special mention of the need to engage all ages in this project, especially the young, to assure our future adding "In that role Perfex continues to sponsor the St Cecilia Music scholarships, the local Photographic exhibition, has held two literary awards, and is keen to engage youth further."
In mid 2019 she said “We are getting to the nitty gritty of our journey as a lobby group and advocate for an ARTS facility in the Bay. The Council continues to do the background work needed for the project including searches for indigenous artefacts; water movement planning; bedrock surveying; electricity and infrastructure adaptions. The Council is also negotiating with the Minigolf business for its relocation.”
In closing Dr Mackenzie said "Perfex continues to see its role as passing on the community’s ideas and needs, and advocating for these until their mission is completed: "To bring to completion the construction of a centre for the performing and visual arts, to meet the current and future needs of the Batemans Bay Community."
AUDIO: presentation from Dr Mackenzie and questions from Councillors 26th March 2019 : Under MOU with Eurobodalla Shire Council Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence.read more http://bit.ly/beagleCC