Interim Report - Performing Arts Spaces (Indoor and Outdoor) - Issues and Options Discussion Paper

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Jetty Memorial Theatre seats (replaced)

The issue of performing arts spaces in the Coffs Harbour area has been considered by Council and the community over many years. There have been different proposals and plans over many years for various types of facilities in several locations. The City Centre Masterplan 2031 identifies the CBD area for entertainment and performing arts infrastructure. Although there is strong demand for additional performing arts space there has not been a widely agreed set of characteristics in relation to the size or purpose of facilities.

This project and the associated research has been identified in Creative Coffs - Cultural Strategic Plan 2017-2022 and through resolution of Council.

Issues and Options - Interim Findings

Hawkridge Entertainment Services have been engaged by Council to undertake an Issues and Options for Performing Arts Spaces (Indoor and Outdoor) report for the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area.

Hawkridge has interviewed approximately 30 organisations and individuals who hire venues including schools, community theatre and music performance groups, Eisteddfod groups and dance schools; and local and national producers and promoters.

The discussion paper has been released in order to obtain further feedback in relation to current performing arts infrastructure, gaps and future needs.

The interim findings are summarised below.

Indoor performing arts space:

  • Approximately 15%-20% of hirers for venue with a larger stage to cater for Dance and Eisteddfod performances, an unquantified need for a venue suitable for touring producers and promoters (small to medium scale) and a need to plan for a Performing Arts Centre in Coffs Harbour;
  • As a growing Regional City, the needs identified are for a theatre of approximately 600 to 1,000 seat capacity and at the same time to retain the Jetty Memorial Theatre as a secondary theatre providing for the ability to scale depending on the artist and performance;
  • Construction of a new, fit for purpose centre would take approximately six years and cost between $50m to $60m in 2019 figures. The centre would cost between $850,000 and $2,000,000 to operate per year but would provide significant economic, social and cultural benefits to the region;
  • It is unlikely that any proponent other than Council is able to fund a signficant amount of any new construction. Council needs to make the decision whether to commit to the construction of a new performing arts centre or not and, if proceeding, to include the cost of the project in future Council budgeting as well as financial, strategic and asset planning documents;
  • Consistent with Council planning and best practice principles, most appropriate location for a new indoor performing arts space is the CBD;
  • Various recommendations for short-term actions and options for consideration include a feasibility study for an indoor performing arts space, strategic/business plan for the Jetty Memorial Theatre, a venues guide and investigate options for Council support for upgrades of existing or new multipurpose venues.

Outdoor performing arts spaces:

  • There are a number of existing spaces that are effectively used for outdoor performance
  • Large outdoor productions usually travel with their own technical infrastructure, including stages, lighting, sound and audio-visual equipment
  • Generally promoters prefer sites with minimal built infrastructure, however are in favour of services such as direct sewer outlets and three phase power outlets
  • Council could further support outdoor events by adding fixed infrastructure such as fencing, connectivity (bridges, transport)and temporary facilities

Have Your Say on the Interim Performing Arts Spaces (Indoor and Outdoor) - Issues and Options Discussion Paper.

The Interim Discussion Paper was available for comment from Wednesday 18 December 2019 to Friday 28th February 2020. The document can still be downloaded for viewing from the Document Library (to the right or below if viewing this page on a mobile device) even though the submission period has closed and Community information and feedback sessions have taken place during February 2020.

All comments will be considered before finalising the Performing Arts Spaces (Indoor and Outdoor) - Issues and Options report, which is planned to be presented to Councillors for endorsement at a Council meeting in the first half of 2020.

The issue of performing arts spaces in the Coffs Harbour area has been considered by Council and the community over many years. There have been different proposals and plans over many years for various types of facilities in several locations. The City Centre Masterplan 2031 identifies the CBD area for entertainment and performing arts infrastructure. Although there is strong demand for additional performing arts space there has not been a widely agreed set of characteristics in relation to the size or purpose of facilities.

This project and the associated research has been identified in Creative Coffs - Cultural Strategic Plan 2017-2022 and through resolution of Council.

Issues and Options - Interim Findings

Hawkridge Entertainment Services have been engaged by Council to undertake an Issues and Options for Performing Arts Spaces (Indoor and Outdoor) report for the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area.

Hawkridge has interviewed approximately 30 organisations and individuals who hire venues including schools, community theatre and music performance groups, Eisteddfod groups and dance schools; and local and national producers and promoters.

The discussion paper has been released in order to obtain further feedback in relation to current performing arts infrastructure, gaps and future needs.

The interim findings are summarised below.

Indoor performing arts space:

  • Approximately 15%-20% of hirers for venue with a larger stage to cater for Dance and Eisteddfod performances, an unquantified need for a venue suitable for touring producers and promoters (small to medium scale) and a need to plan for a Performing Arts Centre in Coffs Harbour;
  • As a growing Regional City, the needs identified are for a theatre of approximately 600 to 1,000 seat capacity and at the same time to retain the Jetty Memorial Theatre as a secondary theatre providing for the ability to scale depending on the artist and performance;
  • Construction of a new, fit for purpose centre would take approximately six years and cost between $50m to $60m in 2019 figures. The centre would cost between $850,000 and $2,000,000 to operate per year but would provide significant economic, social and cultural benefits to the region;
  • It is unlikely that any proponent other than Council is able to fund a signficant amount of any new construction. Council needs to make the decision whether to commit to the construction of a new performing arts centre or not and, if proceeding, to include the cost of the project in future Council budgeting as well as financial, strategic and asset planning documents;
  • Consistent with Council planning and best practice principles, most appropriate location for a new indoor performing arts space is the CBD;
  • Various recommendations for short-term actions and options for consideration include a feasibility study for an indoor performing arts space, strategic/business plan for the Jetty Memorial Theatre, a venues guide and investigate options for Council support for upgrades of existing or new multipurpose venues.

Outdoor performing arts spaces:

  • There are a number of existing spaces that are effectively used for outdoor performance
  • Large outdoor productions usually travel with their own technical infrastructure, including stages, lighting, sound and audio-visual equipment
  • Generally promoters prefer sites with minimal built infrastructure, however are in favour of services such as direct sewer outlets and three phase power outlets
  • Council could further support outdoor events by adding fixed infrastructure such as fencing, connectivity (bridges, transport)and temporary facilities

Have Your Say on the Interim Performing Arts Spaces (Indoor and Outdoor) - Issues and Options Discussion Paper.

The Interim Discussion Paper was available for comment from Wednesday 18 December 2019 to Friday 28th February 2020. The document can still be downloaded for viewing from the Document Library (to the right or below if viewing this page on a mobile device) even though the submission period has closed and Community information and feedback sessions have taken place during February 2020.

All comments will be considered before finalising the Performing Arts Spaces (Indoor and Outdoor) - Issues and Options report, which is planned to be presented to Councillors for endorsement at a Council meeting in the first half of 2020.

  • On Wednesday 12 February, 2020 Council conducted two workshops to hear feedback from the community and stakeholders. Hawkridge Consultants delivered the workshops with Council staff present. Drop-in information sessions with Hawkridge consultants and Council staff were held on Monday 10 Feb and Wednesday 12 Feb at Cavanbah Hall, Coffs Harbour.



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  • CLOSED: Submission period has concluded.

    Writing a submission is one way of sharing your views and opinions with Council. All submissions are considered and your submission will be included in a report to Council. Submissions close 28 February 2020.

    In order for Council to consider electronic submissions each submission must:

    a) contain legitimate contact details;
    b) be received by Council during the submission period; and
    c) be correctly or ‘properly’ made to include the proposal title and reasons for the submission.

    Submissions which do not satisfy the above criteria may not be considered. Further details can be found in Council's Submission Policy.

    Council is

    Writing a submission is one way of sharing your views and opinions with Council. All submissions are considered and your submission will be included in a report to Council. Submissions close 28 February 2020.

    In order for Council to consider electronic submissions each submission must:

    a) contain legitimate contact details;
    b) be received by Council during the submission period; and
    c) be correctly or ‘properly’ made to include the proposal title and reasons for the submission.

    Submissions which do not satisfy the above criteria may not be considered. Further details can be found in Council's Submission Policy.

    Council is committed to openness and transparency in its decision making processes.  The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 requires Council to provide public access to information held unless there are overriding public interest considerations against disclosure.  Any submissions received will be made publicly available unless the writer can demonstrate that the release of part or all of the information would not be in the public interest.  However, Council would be obliged to release information as required by court order or other specific law.

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