Arts/Music/Film, Local

Council announces $200k for an ‘Indoor Performing Arts Centre’ feasibility study

A feasibility study to find the most suitable location, operational and financial model for an Indoor Performing Arts Centre for Coffs Harbour will be the next step taken by Coffs Harbour City Council after an ‘Issues and Options Paper for Performing Arts Spaces’ was adopted unanimously by Councillors.

A draft ‘Issues and Options Paper’ that looked at current local performance venues and their capacity to fill community, cultural and economic needs was put out for public comment from 18 December 2019 until 28 February 2020. During that time, community consultation workshops and drop-in information sessions led by independent consultants were also held. A total of 25 public submissions was received along with feedback from sector stakeholders.

“The feedback supported the construction of an Indoor Regional Performing Arts Centre with a capacity of between 600-1000 seats,” said Sian Nivison, Council’s Group Leader Community and Cultural Services. “This sized venue is considered the most viable to attract and accommodate a larger range of touring acts and performances, hold special local performances and provide reasonable economic returns.

“It should be noted that in the feedback received on the draft Paper, the City Centre was identified as the best location by a number of potential users and hirers.

“We look forward to working with the community and potential users and hirers of the proposed facility during the next Feasibility Study phase”

It is anticipated that construction of a new, fit-for-purpose, regional Indoor Performing Arts Centre will take around six years to plan and build and cost between $50m to $60m at 2019 construction costs. It is anticipated that the annual running costs would be between $850,000 and $2m.

There was agreement that the current outdoor spaces available as performance venues locally are adequate for that use as they offer a wide variety of options.

The role the Jetty Memorial Theatre plays for smaller-scale indoor performing arts and other events was also considered. It was agreed that Council continue plans to retain and expand the Theatre to develop a larger multi-purpose community and rehearsal space that meets local arts and community venue demand.

Councillors agreed to progress the project to the next stage and begin work on a Feasibility Study to determine the most suitable location within the City Centre, operational and financial model for an Indoor Regional Performing Arts Centre.


The above is a CHCC Press Release released five days ago. See;


CCO Editor’s note: An interesting development.

We note it was announced near the day elections should have been held, we are aware of previous feasibility studies having been done for an entertainment centre and we also note that the feasibility study is geographically limited to “the city centre.”

It leaves us pondering the question; “Is a an Indoor Regional Performing Arts Centre different from an Entertainment Centre?”


  1. 40cmPedestalFan

    Located nortwest of Dirranbandi, the township – or city is is now, rather – of Garaleen is a leftover assemblage of historic buildings mixed with modern-ish shopping complexes in, mostly, big wide streets. It’s often said there that it has a population “nearing thirty thousand.” But anyone who’s been there knows that’s wishful thinking mixed in with a bit of necessary promotion and a lot of public pride, because the population has never crept above 27,906 and is decreasing every year.

    It’s difficult to find if on a road trip, as the signage and big, faded yellow arrow is located in an industrial area, of all places, on the township of Gawal further to the east. Worse, there’s only one road in; therefore of course, one road (physically, that is) out. You’d have to pretty much get lost to find it, if that makes sense. But you do see it from a long way off, around twenty kms away, as it’s dead flat, dry as a mudcake, and there’s nothing else to capture the eye. Not even a treee. Well, that’s an exaggeration – there is one, when you drive in, five k’s out, on the left. It’s very famous there, and you’ll be asked about it when you get in. “Did you see our tree?” to which you feel obliged to reply “Yes,” though you probably didn’t: it’s a regular eucalypt, and by that time anyway you’re wondering where the heck you’ve lighted upon. “What did you think of it?” you’ll be asked, often, with pride in the enquirers’ eyes.

    You see, Garaleen was once thriving (half a century ago to be imprecise) and like many towns that had nothing beyond it’s immediate use in this ever-hungry quest of fulfilling humankind’s need to build and grow, it was abandoned. You can see relics here and there, of how it used to be, but mostly the good folk have got to and covered them up.

    The shopping centres are fair, to be truthful. Much better than you’d expect. The story around the town shops there is that a plan was copied directly from Dubbo’s new development and transplanted there. It’s surprislngly suitable, too, although there’s no reason for it not to be. It’s all so flat, really, they could have put any design there and it would have worked.

    But gee, the townsfolk are proud of it. That’s the reason for my writing to let you know. Far more than a mere impression, the townfolk outright tell you how wonderful the place is, what it has going for it, and, please, do stay. Friendly? Oh yes. But in a real, salt of the earth, patient kind of way. Not overbearing, not confected. Just good honest folk who know very well they’ve been largely forgotten out there, in the middle of nowhere and nothing, baked in, dry, flat, harsh to the skin and brutal to the eye, and decided pretty much to get on with life and live it to the full.

    You’ve probably never heard of them. And you probably never will. The place has nothing going for it, I’m sorry to say, despite their best efforts.

    And do you know what they’re doing? They’re excited as can be. They’ve got plans for a Cultural Centre. And plans for an Entertainment Centre. They’re practising their scales and knitting furiously as I write. They’re so proud, so excited.

    We should acknowledge them heartily. And their plans are similar, in concept anyway, to ours servicing the magnificent Coffs Harbour region on the pulsating plush north coast of NSW near-smack between the capitals of Sydney and Brisbane and well-travelled and famous. One bloke there, very highly regarded, set aside a large block of land behind his house upon which they’ll build their art gallery. Awesome! Nearby, someone else has joined with a neighbour to provide the site for the orchestras and ‘Death of a Salesman’.

    More, too. They have a design out to their public for a multi-purpose library and workshop facility for the knitters (if they’re hands are up to it!) and also some yoga. That’s pretty big, for them, because it’s all designed to be in one building.

    They’re not worried it’s a patchwork plan. Not at all bothered that it’s pretty much thrown together. To them, that’s all they know they can get, they’re thrilled for their vision, and they’re very, very pleased about it. Besides, as the older folk will tell you, the township is shrinking, so why the need for anything better?

    • Seems 40cm you clearly understand, as do many who regularly visit here, that in our opinion nothing will progress (as it must) in this most glorious of places until we see the back of the present General Manager or the view of his rear number plate disappearing down the highway. Given he seems to be familiar with having people turn their backs on him, maybe Wagga Wagga features as the best place to run to? But then again, there’s always Thailand too I guess.

      It’s amazing to actually witness The Peter Principal being acted out in my opinion.

      Leopards never change their spots remember but it’s just a shame they also spray all over the place while marking out a territory.
      Fortunately, it’s now becoming clear and evident that stories about Coffs Harbour appear to be gaining external interest.

      • 40cmPedestalFan

        Hi Tarquin – I’d forgotten about The Peter Principle. Certainly I think the GM and Mayor, and indeed some other Councillors, are comforted in their shared unremarkableness. I expect it gives them strength against criticism that would require of them accountability and a higher standard. You are dead right in describing the Coffs Region as “glorious.”

        There is nothing glorious about a cultural plan that’s cobbled together. Remove the desire to include Council offices from the original proposition and we may have had a better result thus far. But I fear not. As my reply in preparation to the invaluable and gracious Mr Steurmann, forthcoming, might suggest, we are beset with a general level of gross inaptitude. To be fair, what Coffs requires is simply beyond these people.

        I’m beginning to form the view that had we representing us people of true vision and leadership the Cultural Plan for our region would have resulted in seeking consultants who’d provide a non-conformist portfolio of information and, if City Hill were included, City Hill would be recommended. A design jewel there would be the talking point on the east coast of the country.

        Instead, my view forming now is that consultants were chosen and led to provide the result it did, not for want of anyone involved in wishing to do well, but for utter absence of vision, and utter absence of being able to recognise the moment, the occasion, and with it raising the region’s national regard to the level equal to its glorious natural splendour.

        What we have is NOT a cultural plan. It is a hotchpotch of trying to tick a set of common boxes.

    • A true master (or mistress) of the extended metaphor, you actually persuaded me to Google Garaleen, just in case it actually existed at some time. Could you please create and publish a similar fiction which describes Coffs Harbour with a competent council, democratically managed by ethical people?

      • 40cmPedestalFan

        Julian! What’s that? Garaleen? Has it disappeared altogether, so soon? Ah dear. They were good folk.

        I bet the tree is still there, though.

      • 40cmPedestalFan

        .. and on your Googling, that’s your wonderful big heart and special sensitivity, good sir. Your grandkids are very fortunate. (Be sure to tell them some stories now! … and of course you do. Keep smiling.)

  2. Just a couple of things…having spoken on this in the Public Forum last week AND having attend the February workshops on all three interrelated matters commissioned of external consultants.

    Some of the things quoted as being said but Sian are actually word for word from the consultant’s report.

    There was a separate study about what existing Community (incl Cultural) Facilities. Don’t think it was the same firm, but might have been, as from memory Hawkridge did do two if the set of three.

    What follows is what I posted as a comment on CCO’s Facebook post advising if this article:
    “I spoke to this item at the last meeting and sadly was unable to change anyone’s mind.

    Never mind the fact that the other two February workshops have not had their final draft reports back!

    One being Community (incl Cultural) Facilities (mainly about existing. But does anyone know the capacity – as an interim measure only – of the new, soon to be underway with construction, Woolgoolga facility …was that called “multi-purpose)

    And the other study yet to come back, and this one totally should be being considered in tandem with the $200,000 study recommend be done by consultant firm who the final report that this item of business from last week’s meeting relates to. IE Issues and Options Performance Arts Spaces (Indoor & Outdoor) Paper.

    They could pay me tenth of the $200k and they’d get a better informed report.

    It is to be hoped that 1) this goes out to proper tender process, and 2) that a draft of it, if indeed not workshops and Community engagement happens BRFORE whoever does it does ANYthing.

    I am soooo sick of things being done, and in some cases, like the over $6 mill awarded in contracts already underway, WITHOUT even having a DA approval re the Gordon St debacle!

    Oh…and by the way: construction estimates of $50mill to $60mill makes the likely/quite possibly more than $76.5mill re the Cultural and Civic Space Project for the Gordon St proposal once again lends support to the too expensive for what it would be “guesstimate” obtained by quantity surveying done off schematic concept plans.

    Another thing done out of logical order.

    That situation, besides waiting for a DA, which it has just occurred to me is also based only on SCHEMATIC plans, should also.have been a case of deciding whether to spend millions on getting better than quantity surveying cost estimates.

    Then finance considered, etc…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *