The Cultural & Civic Space - for the Heart of Coffs

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The Cultural and Civic Space will be a central hub for residents and visitors in Coffs Harbour. The development will house larger and improved cultural facilities including the library, gallery and museum.
This welcoming and multipurpose space will also include Council offices and chambers, as well as co-working and event spaces for community hire and use.
The Cultural and Civic Space will become the Heart of Coffs Harbour as our city centre continues to develop and improve, to meet the demands of our increasing population of residents and visitors.

PROJECT TIMELINE

In 2016 Council unanimously endorsed the Gordon Street site as the preferred location for the new library and gallery and resolved to undertake a detailed precinct analysis, consider the inclusion of the regional museum and to investigate mixed and civic uses for this site in order maximise the location.

In 2017 Council endorsed Creative Coffs – Cultural Strategic Plan and the Precinct Analysis to progress through to the concept design phase. At this stage, the Council offices were included in the scope.

Between December 2017 and March 2018, a comprehensive stakeholder and community engagement consultation and information campaign asked stakeholders for feedback on three separate concept designs.

At the June 2018 Council Meeting the report detailing the Concept Business Case and outcome of the community engagement on the three concept designs - to identify key features that people wanted incorporated in the new building - was endorsed to progress to the next stage; a single schematic design. At this point, the Regional Museum was also included in the project.

In early 2019, broad community engagement was undertaken on the preliminary schematic design created by BVN Architecture.

The outcomes of the consultation were incorporated into the final schematic design report which was presented to Council in July 2019.

The 25 July Council Meeting was adjourned until 8 August 2019.

At the 8 August Council Meeting the Councillors resolved to proceed with the Cultural and Civic Space Project by: 1. Allocating full project funding of $76.52 million, 2. Lodging a development application, 3. Disposing of the nominated properties 4. Procuring the build through a two stage design and construct contract.

At the 13 February Council Meeting, the Councillors approved the tenders for Project Manager, Head Design Consultant and Cost Manager. The demolition DA for 23-31 Gordon Street was also approved.

As a result of this decision, and the appointment of these key contracts, the detailed design phase of the Cultural and Civic Space project officially began.

Coming soon: 80% Design Development Report and result of the State Significant Development Application (SSDA)


The Cultural and Civic Space will be a central hub for residents and visitors in Coffs Harbour. The development will house larger and improved cultural facilities including the library, gallery and museum.
This welcoming and multipurpose space will also include Council offices and chambers, as well as co-working and event spaces for community hire and use.
The Cultural and Civic Space will become the Heart of Coffs Harbour as our city centre continues to develop and improve, to meet the demands of our increasing population of residents and visitors.

PROJECT TIMELINE

In 2016 Council unanimously endorsed the Gordon Street site as the preferred location for the new library and gallery and resolved to undertake a detailed precinct analysis, consider the inclusion of the regional museum and to investigate mixed and civic uses for this site in order maximise the location.

In 2017 Council endorsed Creative Coffs – Cultural Strategic Plan and the Precinct Analysis to progress through to the concept design phase. At this stage, the Council offices were included in the scope.

Between December 2017 and March 2018, a comprehensive stakeholder and community engagement consultation and information campaign asked stakeholders for feedback on three separate concept designs.

At the June 2018 Council Meeting the report detailing the Concept Business Case and outcome of the community engagement on the three concept designs - to identify key features that people wanted incorporated in the new building - was endorsed to progress to the next stage; a single schematic design. At this point, the Regional Museum was also included in the project.

In early 2019, broad community engagement was undertaken on the preliminary schematic design created by BVN Architecture.

The outcomes of the consultation were incorporated into the final schematic design report which was presented to Council in July 2019.

The 25 July Council Meeting was adjourned until 8 August 2019.

At the 8 August Council Meeting the Councillors resolved to proceed with the Cultural and Civic Space Project by: 1. Allocating full project funding of $76.52 million, 2. Lodging a development application, 3. Disposing of the nominated properties 4. Procuring the build through a two stage design and construct contract.

At the 13 February Council Meeting, the Councillors approved the tenders for Project Manager, Head Design Consultant and Cost Manager. The demolition DA for 23-31 Gordon Street was also approved.

As a result of this decision, and the appointment of these key contracts, the detailed design phase of the Cultural and Civic Space project officially began.

Coming soon: 80% Design Development Report and result of the State Significant Development Application (SSDA)


  • Cultural and Civic Space State Significant Development Application approved

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    30 Nov 2020
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    Coffs Harbour City Council can now confirm the NSW Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, has approved the Development Application (DA) for the new Cultural and Civic Space. For more information go here.

  • Quick chat with Jane Tavener

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    18 Nov 2020
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    For those who don’t know you, could you tell me a little bit about yourself?

    Since March 2020 I’ve been the acting General Manager as well as the Social Enterprise Coordinator for Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance, which also includes its commercial arm, the National Aboriginal Design Agency. I love the simple life with my family around me and lots of peace and quiet, but I keep getting involved in big creative projects! Last year I created Botanica as a fundraising event for my Heart and Soul Foundation, which was one of the best things I’ve ever made – apart from my daughters!

    What are you passionate about – what gets you out of bed in the morning?

    I love working and making a difference in the community, particularly the arts and cultural community. I feel incredibly lucky with the work I’m currently doing, where I get to work with creative people in projects that support our Aboriginal communities, and also vulnerable women in our community through the Heart and Soul Foundation projects. I am passionate about supporting the development of the Coffs Coast as a hub for really great, innovative and creative events.

    What do you think is the value of supporting cultural and arts development in a place like Coffs Harbour?

    Our area has an incredibly beautiful natural environment – people already want to come here, and culture and arts add value to that experience. If Coffs Harbour becomes an amazing creative hub, it will draw different kinds of people to attend our awesome film festivals or arts events. There is great value in supporting a really valuable industry which generates a lot of money in Australia, as well as nourishing our local Gumbaynggirr culture and artists. I think lockdown showed how important the arts are to all of us, with powerful positive effects on our health and wellbeing, as well as opportunities for business and tourism.

    What would you say to the people who are worried about the project?

    Right now, we don’t know what we don’t have. We have the cultural facilities that we have, and they’ve done really well considering their limitations, but it’s hard for the community to imagine the world class facilities we will have with this new purpose built facility. If you don’t know where Italy is you can never go there. We don’t really know where Italy is at the moment. I understand that people are worried about their rates and other issues, but I would like people to be open minded and let this be something incredibly wonderful for us.

    What excites you about the Cultural and Civic Space project?

    People have moved out of Coffs to live in other areas which have more arts and cultural opportunities, and this is our chance to have these kinds of opportunities right here, right now. There are a lot of people focusing on the regions now because of the pandemic – how exciting for us that Coffs is creating a really vibrant and creative arts community at this time

  • Cultural and Civic Space gives the community a rooftop oasis

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    16 Nov 2020
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    This is a rooftop oasis which will allow everyone to enjoy our beautiful natural Coffs environment.

    The doors of the multipurpose room will open onto the rooftop garden with community members being able to spill out to enjoy the view.

    Once every two weeks, the room will be transformed for Thursday night Council meetings. Unlike the existing Council Chamber, which usually sits unused in between meetings, this room will be mostly a community event space,

    Click here to read more: https://www.news.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/2020/11/16/cultural-and-civic-space-gives-the-community-a-rooftop-oasis/

  • Community curators to uncover Coffs Harbour's hidden histories

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    01 Oct 2020
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    Thanks to a $72,300 grant for the Regional Museum announced today by the NSW Government’s Minister for the Arts, Coffs Harbour’s ‘hidden’ histories can be uncovered and given their rightful place in the story of our local heritage.

    For more information, read the whole article here

    Article image from the Stories to Freedom exhibition by And the Trees Photography.

  • Q&A with Kerry Grace

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    01 Oct 2020
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    For those people who don’t know you, tell me a little bit about yourself.

    My name is Kerry Grace, I’m a 7th generation Mid-North coast resident, and I’m the CEO of Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast and Evolve Group Network.

    What are you passionate about?

    I’m passionate about everyday leaders and empowering them to implement their community-led solutions. In my experience, people who live in a community know what needs to happen and they know what works and what doesn’t. I believe change should be implemented from the ground up rather than from the top down.

    What is the potential for a project like this to benefit Coffs Harbour in particular and more widely the Coffs Coast?

    Art and cultural are central to the economic viability of any community offering unique experiences to our visitors and engaging attractions for our locals. The value of creative industries is often under-estimated in regional Australia. In the Mid North Coast the sector contributes an estimated $29.7M to the economy (Source ABS) and employs 1,270 people. This does not incorporate the additional revenue and jobs created in ancillary industries such as hospitality and accommodation which also benefit via creative industries.

    What do you think is the particular value of cultural development in a place like the mid-north coast?

    When I grew up in a small community in the Mid North Coast the only currency was sport. And for the kids that weren’t really into sport there wasn’t a lot of choice. The development of game-changing amenities such as the one proposed by Coffs Harbour City Council really places creative industries front and centre. It sends a message that we are a sophisticated, forward thinking and inclusive region.

    What excites you about this project?

    I’m particularly excited for young people because it enables them to aspire to something greater. It shows them that people in charge are thinking about the future and not stuck in the past.

    What would you say to the people who are worried about this project?

    I’d say to them: as I travel around regional communities and ask them what makes their community unique, what they often tell me is exactly the same as what their neighbours offer: our natural beauty: beautiful beaches, hinterland and creeks. There is no doubt this is lovely, however to stand out we really need something that is actually unique, something offered via the creative industries. The leadership Coffs Harbour City Council has shown in this project makes me proud to live on the Coffs Coast. To me, this project embodies the vibrancy of the Coffs Harbour community.

  • Take a look inside our new building!

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    23 Sep 2020
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    The first illustrations of the Cultural and Civic Space have been released, giving us a glimpse inside the current design for the new building,

    The first images to be shown are of the children’s area in the library at ground floor level, and the internal street that flows through the building from one side to the other.

    The children’s area is vibrant and dynamic with a character of its own. There will be different reading nooks and spaces for Storytime to capture and inspire the imaginations of our little Coffs people and their families.

    The image of the internal street within the building is looking from Gordon Street through to Riding Lane. It shows the light-filled three-dimensional space with the library and other functions looking over into the central space, with a striking circular skylight. This urban passageway will provide free flowing access throughout the day and evening.

    For more information, see the media release on the Council newsroom website

  • Museums tell our stories and hold our histories

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    What is the role of a museum? The traditional role of museums is to collect objects and materials of cultural, religious and historical importance, preserve them, research them and present them to the public for the purpose of education and enjoyment.

    Whether they are national or local in focus, museums cherish the stories important to a community. Some of those stories are well known and some of them might be hidden and need to be brought to the surface. When a community knows its own stories - not just the whitewashed version but the warts and all kind, - we develop a deeper appreciation of our place and who we are as a result of our experiences as a community.

    A good museum tells engaging stories and narratives that capture our interest and imagination, taps into our emotions and prompt us to think more deeply and ask questions about the past, present and future of our region. For example, why do we have refugees in Coffs? How are we protecting our natural environment? What kind of innovations are going on in food production?

    How have museums changed? Banish the idea of fusty, dusty old museums which focus more on objects rather than stories. Museums are still institutions which collect and safeguard artefacts, but they now use multimedia technology such as touchscreens and touch tables, as well as film and audio to engage visitors in meaningful and interesting ways.

    Museums have become more hands on as well, with many providing opportunities for interactive activities. The new museum will host an interactive space where visitors of all ages can sign up for a workshop and learn valuable new skills such as how to look after their family photos and collections, how to handle historical objects and much more.

    What can we look forward to in our new museum? Our new museum will be contemporary, highly visual and will showcase many more of the fascinating items in the museum’s collections, including historical artefacts, photographs and multi-media resources. Visitors will be engaged, surprised and energised by what they experience.

    Our new museum will be a one-of-a-kind visitor experience, not only for Coffs Harbour locals, who will feel proud of our histories and stories on display, but for visitors to the area who will be drawn to the unique cultural destination as part of their stay on the beautiful Coffs Coast.

    Image by: and the trees photography

  • August newsletter

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    Hi all,

    August has flown by and it’s been another busy month for our design team with the look and feel of our new building taking shape. We’re busily plotting a fun way to give our community a sneak peek inside the walls so you can see where we are up to - stay tuned!

  • Council's Cultural Framework Planning Wins Top State Award

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    11 Aug 2020
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    In an exciting end to Local Government Week 2020, Coffs Harbour City Council has won the top prize for Cultural Plans in the Local Government NSW Awards. It emphasises the importance of partnerships and networks and provides a bridge to 2023, when new spaces and possibilities will be realised as part of the Cultural and Civic Space project.

    The winning plan, ‘LMG Strategy 2020-2023’ provides a framework to:

    • inspire and support lifelong-learning, literacy, creativity and cultural expression;
    • to find, share, and create knowledge;
    • recognise, preserve, and share our diverse histories and stories; and
    • provide welcoming public spaces accessible to all.
  • July e-newsletter

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    30 Jul 2020
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    Detailed design is progressing for the Cultural and Civic Space project, with council working groups and the design team functioning well together.

    During the month, Matthew Blair, BVN Principal Architect for the Cultural and Civic Space, paid a visit to Coffs Harbour. It’s surprising how much can be accomplished over video-conference, but some things are just better face to face.

    During his time here, Matthew met with Mayor Denise Knight, where they discussed the progress of the project and visited the site. He also made time to meet with a group of enthusiastic young people at Toormina library to get their feedback and ideas on the library youth space, one of three youth space meetings conducted during this month.

    Read on to hear what our young people imagine for their youth space, the provisions being made for disability access and questions from the community on our Have Your Say Page.

    The Project Office team.