Why is a new indoor entertainment venue being considered for Coffs Harbour?

    Council supports the development of Coffs Harbour's cultural and creative sector and recognises the role of cultural infrastructure in making this happen.

    Whilst there has been community support for an entertainment venue for Coffs Harbour, there has been variance about the venue’s size, functions and location.

    Coffs Harbour is missing out on a range of touring acts, concerts and shows as it doesn't have an indoor entertainment venue with proper standards of seating, lighting and sound to attract and cater for such performances.

    A larger sized venue will also benefit local community performances such as Eisteddfods, dance and school performances; and support the growth of Coffs Harbour's creative industry, whilst complementing its existing venues.

    Council is committed to undertaking a scoping study to accurately define an entertainment venue in the City Centre that will deliver the best outcomes for the Coffs Harbour region. This Study will also provide recommendations about constructing and operating this type of venue.

    How is the Scoping Study process being undertaken?

    A multi-disciplinary project team including Hawkridge Entertainment Services, Locale Consulting and architects Scott Carver have been appointed by Council to deliver the Scoping Study.

    The Study is anticipated to run until 2022 in four sequential stages of work:

    • Functional Brief 
    • Site Analysis
    • Concept Design and Financial Analysis 
    • Final Scoping Study Report.

    What are the factors in the successful location of an indoor entertainment venue?

    The following factors are sourced from “Oh You Beautiful Stage” – Australian Design and Technical Benchmarks for Performing Arts Centres by the Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres.

    • Excellent access with suitable loading movements for trucks up to semi-trailers, in positions they can stand for several hours; 
    • An area considered safe day and night;
    • Generous nearby car parking (but preferably not dominated or surrounded by car parking);
    • Very high visibility and marketing presence, with an appearance of activity and ambience expressing fun and entertainment;
    • High passing foot traffic to attract ease of booking and familiarity;
    • Nearby or immersed in both day and night-life activities such as restaurants, bookshops, music shops and cinema;
    • Excellent nearby public transport, day and night.

    What are the outcomes of the Scoping Study?

    The key outcomes of the Scoping Study will be a defined entertainment venue, the identification of a preferred site, including operating model, costs and delivery.

    The Scoping Study will also consider outcomes of community and industry stakeholder consultation. 

    It should be noted that the completion of this Study is not a commitment to the implementation of further works.  Should a new entertainment venue project proceed, it is estimated that it would take at least 6 years to plan, design, and commission and construct a new venue.  

    What engagement on the Scoping Study has been done to date?

    Hawkridge Entertainment Services initially undertook broad engagement for the completion of the Performing Arts Spaces Issues and Options project with 50 organisations and individuals who were directly connected to the hiring of venues and booking performances. 

    For the completion of the Functional Brief, feedback was sought from a range of entertainment industry and performing art sector stakeholders to further define the required functionality of the venue. Consultation was conducted with approximately 25 representatives from the following:

    • Schools and education institutions;
    • Local community theatre groups;
    • Local community music performance groups;
    • Eisteddfod groups;
    • Local dance schools;
    • Local, regional and national promoters;
    • Producers;
    • Technical production companies;
    • Local industry organisations.

    Council will update information about the progress of the Scoping Study and various project stages on this page towards mid - late 2021. Community and stakeholders will be invited to engage on the site analysis stage of this project.

    What sites are being considered for the new indoor entertainment venue?

    The City Centre Masterplan 2031 identifies the Study Area scope and potential strategic sites within the City Centre.    

    Sites within the City Centre Masterplan 2031 area will  be assessed using the Functional Brief requirements and footprint.

    Sites will be tested on a range of criteria (e.g. site size, urban planning, co-location opportunities, access to parking, and urban context) and venue industry benchmarks (e.g. loading dock access and public accessibility).

    The most appropriate site for a new indoor entertainment venue will be based on how the site meets these criteria, including regional cultural economic and tourism benefits.

    What is the Functional Brief?

    The 'Functional Brief' will determine in detail the venue’s overall size, number of seats, the auditorium size, relationship to the Back of House and Front of House and other technical requirements or additional functions ( such as Rehearsal Rooms).

    A Functional Brief (including the size of the footprint required) is necessary to inform how the venue can be developed within the most appropriate location. 

    What is the City Centre Masterplan?

    The City Centre Masterplan 2031 maps the future for the Coffs Harbour City Centre.  The Masterplan identifies potential strategic sites with the City Centre that relate to entertainment infrastructure. 

    The Scoping Study will consider sites that are located within the City Centre Masterplan 2031 area.  

    Is this project linked to the Cultural and Civic Space?

    This is a separate project to the Cultural and Civic Space project. 

    The entertainment venue Scoping Study complements the provision of cultural infrastructure across the City Centre for the broader Coffs Harbour region.

    The Cultural and Civic Space development will house larger and improved cultural facilities, including the library, gallery and museum.

    What about outdoor performance spaces?

    This project will not be addressing outdoor performance or entertainment spaces.

    The Issues and Options Paper recommended there is an appropriate provision of venues around the Coffs Harbour LGA available for outdoor performance and entertainment events. No single site is prioritised, as each site has its own uniqueness and set of offerings. This is particularly important for commercial festivals and events, as each promoter has their own set of requirements and provides their own technical infrastructure. 

    More information about outdoor spaces is included on page 10 of the Issues and Options Paper.