The Hawksbridge report on a proposed Performing Arts Centre is to be considered by Councillors at tonight’s last Council meeting for the year.
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week The Coffs Coast Outlook published two articles about the report which are linked to the bottom of this article. Essentially although Hawkbridge did some excellent work looking at the state of, and future needs of, the arts in Coffs Harbour it was hard to look past the final recommendation which clearly stated any new centre should be in the CBD.
We also highlighted Council’s terms of reference which we believe seemed to signpost that Council’s preference was a public/private partnership, or one solely privately owned, in the CBD when they commissioned Hawkbridge’s report.
Finally below Jan Lindrum gives her views on the report, what it may mean, who might benefit from it and what that may mean in the future based on similar proposals elsewhere.
Firstly it is important to discuss one of the arts centers highlighted in the report by Hawkbridge.
Namely the Concourse in Willoughby (pictured above) on Sydney’s North Shore. It is important to point out that it is 13 minutes from the Sydney CBD; Coffs is an 8 hour drive or a 55 minute flight at best from Sydney.
As such it goes against the Hawkbridge report’s emphasis that Performing Arts Centres in NSW need to be near CBD’s.
The Concourse also came with many high profile Patrons with a former Prime Minister among them.
Maybe Coffs Harbour has similar but if so then can they please speak up, be identified or be heard? For example, is Ben Quilty one of them?
The Concourse in Mosman compromises a Concert Hall, Theater, Rehearsal Centre, Art Space, Multi-purpose function space, car parking station for 400 vehicles, two Open Green spaces, restaurants, cafes and retail.
Little to none this can be provided in Gordon Street unless Gordon Street is not the Gordon Street we know as Gordon Street or close nearby today.
In other words, the plan is substantially different to the plan that has been put forward to those within the community who are so desperate for a new gallery, museum and library. And those promoting it are so terrified that those assets will be lost if there is a pause, that they are prepared to applaud the wrecking balls rather than hear the warning bells others are ringing.
My guess in relation to Coffs Harbour then is that Hawkridge have perceived an opportunity, or the State Government has perceived an opportunity, or the C.Ex Club has perceived an opportunity, or all three have perceived an opportunity to redesign the Coffs CBD to incorporate an Entertainment complex in the C.Ex Club with a new “paid” car parking station like in Manly, possibly linked to the Art Gallery and Museum and replete with its own Restaurants, Cafes and so on.
Will it work? Potentially yes because we are NOT TALKING ABOUT GORDON STREET as we now know it.
We are talking about the whole redesign of the Coffs Harbour CBD.
We are also talking BIG MONEY. Where will this BIG MONEY come from?
Well, it has to come from somewhere.C.Ex, Government, increased parking, increased rates, sale of publicly-owned assets (including privatisation of the airport?), increased Section 94 contributions. Where else can it come from?
I have thought, for some time now, that Coffs Harbour has been looking at a mini-Jupiter type operation, now of course known as the Star Gold Coast.
Knowing the parties involved, I am now pretty much convinced that is the case.
I just wish the Council/the Executive would come clean on the agenda. Well those who know anyway.
But no it is all smoke and mirrors!
For Pete’s sake, the people of Coffs Harbour are far from stupid. If I am right and this is the plan then some members of the current Council had better be well and truly prepared to be ‘swept away by the voters broom’ in September 2020. Because I am sure it is a-coming their way.
If I am wrong, then what is the plan? Is there a plan? Or is it a seduction?
To be brutally frank, I don’t think The Concourse in Chatswood is all that crash hot. It is nothing OUT OF THE BOX. When visiting Sydney I would not bother to go there.
What keeps it alive is the large population living on its doorstep and that is a benefit Coffs Harbour does not enjoy.
Is it possible that 1000 people could visit Coffs Harbour ‘CBD’ per day x 365 days a year. If so then guess the answer is “YES” if the plan is to bulldoze the CBD and build a mini-Jupiters.
But, remember, mini-Jupiters usually always becomes a bigger Jupiters.
Remember also that the shows that were performed when Jupiters opened are no longer now on offer. They have largely gone the way of the Dodo. International Acts come, sure. But as for supporting the local performing arts too? Forget it.
As time passed at Jupiters, the investment in the ARTS deteriorated to next to nothing.
Visitors to Jupiters largely now visit to eat, drink and gamble. That is the “reality”.
And “drugs” and “alcohol consumption” are now bigger problems on the Gold Coast than they were in the past in my opinion.
Is this the Coffs Harbour you want?
Because when the economy slumped on the Gold Coast, former Premier Anna Bligh gifted TabCorp – wait for it – $600M AUD – “to prop up the ailing Gold Coast economy”.
All at the ultimate expense of pensioners, aged care workers, aged care facilities, the homeless, along with a recorded dramatic decline in literacy standards and an alarming increase in youth suicide. and those drug and alcohol issues mentioned above too.
Is that the Coffs Harbour you want?
And another question; I wonder when this Council stopped talking about PULBIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS for the development of a Performing Arts Centre of Excellence and when Private ownership only for the Performing Arts became the supposed ‘gold standard’? For that seems to be the way it is going.
And lastly, ask yourself why that occurred?
Tuesday’s article on the Hawksbridge Report, complete with links to tonight’s Council agenda and the report, can be found here; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/council-to-discuss-report-on-performance-space-this-thursday/
Wednesday’s follow up article can be found here; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/performing-arts-centre-should-be-in-cbd-report-to-council/
See here for a 2017 Coffs Coast Advocate interview with the CEO of C.ex and an article on their plans for the future too; https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/facade-facelift-for-cex-coffs/3235592/