Opinion/Comment

The proposed Performing Arts Centre – “is it really a mini-Jupiters in disguise?”

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.

The art space at The Concourse, Willoughby.

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.

Jupiters Casino – now known as The Star Casino, Gold Coast. Is a mini version of this the vision some have for Coffs Harbour?

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/

29 Comments

  1. Jan I totally agree with everything you have written. I have always said that the C.ex club are wanting to build a Mini Jupiter’s Casino / entertainment venue like the GoldCoast.
    It’s all about profit and money before it is about people.
    What was once a club formed as a return service league is now a mini casino with all the poker machines causing huge Addiction & gambling problems to the punters and a windfall to the C.Ex club and revenue in taxes to the State Gov.
    We live in a world of ADDICTION. Coffs Coast ICE DRUG usage has increased by 1000% reported by Coffs Coast Advocate just recently. Unfortunately it was not printed in the Coffs Coast Advocate. Only online subscription pay.
    CHCC do not want to advertise this very serious issue that is occurring in our LGA. They prefer to live their bubble where GM Steve McGrath’s Annual Salary package was $360,761.00 at June 30th 2019 and are full steam ahead to get this $76 million CCCC project built. The reason being is deals were done a long time back I am guessing.
    Poker machine profit is massive for the C.ex club. Talk to staff at the C.Ex club who will tell you stories of how destructive the poker machine & gambling has become for their customers.
    I believe the State Gov are involved behind the scenes where secret deals have been done. The State Gov has a lot to gain with development at Jetty Foreshore and Coffs future growth. They have their eyes on the money as well and are involved big time with the TICKING OF BOXES process.
    The State Government are in discussion with the C.ex club about building the Entertainment Centre as announced by CEO C.EX Club John Rafferty at July’s Crucial Council Meeting.
    These faceless people pulling the strings behind the scenes must think we the residents & ratepayers are stupid. Residents in Sawtell pay the highest rates in the LGA and some still have NO CURB and GUTTERING!!! It’s almost 2020 !!! Take a drive around the many streets of the old residential areas of Coffs where ratepayers have been paying rates forever and still are without kerb n guttering! An essential service. A total disgrace and an insult to those residents & ratepayers!!!
    What a return on investment the C.EX club has made on swapping the Civic Centre/ Town Hall / Library for the land deal for Southern Cross University. Playing Monopoly with eyes on Council Chambers and Possibly Rigby House . They will then change the name change from Coffs Harbour to C.EX Harbour. It’s all about Branding and a having a Monopoly. CHCC are selling off the ratepayers assets and are not listening to the ratepayers who Employ them!

    • Who is the anonymous joe or gutless wonder who wrote this? Put your name to it and own it. It will make your lots opinions accountable, honourable and trustworthy. Author: s3-9137-admin. So sick of people hiding behind acronyms and being keyboard warriors on social media these days.

      • Matt Kilpatrick

        Check out the 4th paragraph down John Breyer. The author is clearly identified. Jan Lindrum is her name.
        Feel free to apologise.

        • FAKE NEWS worst than mainstream media

          • Shirley Ambrose

            Bryer comes from the Scottish word ‘Brair’ meaning ‘prickly thorn’. All of your almost illiterate comments so far on this site have been meaningless negative cheap shots that have added nothing to the debate. Why don’t you wake up to yourself? Just typical of your ‘lot’!

          • Matt Kilpatrick

            It may or may not be ‘Fake News’ as you put it in such a Trumpian manner John. Time will only tell I guess.

            But that was not the basis of your original complaint. An “anonymous joe or gutless wonder” were the words you used. When it was pointed out you were wrong and the author’s name was indeed clearly identified you then chose to ignore that.

            You were wrong. Own up and admit it and stop being ‘a gutless wonder’. Your words, not mine.

    • An interview with President David Doyle and CEO John Rafferty of the C.EX club discussing the renovation/ upgrade , Strategic plans, acquiring the Boulevard Arcade properties , talk of hotel / residential and Vernon St being made into a one way road with a restaurant, eating precinct.

      https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/facade-facelift-for-cex-coffs/3235592/

      • A very interesting interview indeed Old Timer. With CEO John Rafferty announcing at the July meeting that the C.ex will build the entertainment Centre only if the Council Admin is included in the Gordon Street project.
        After that meeting a member of the public witnessed the GM Steve McGrath , Cr Michael Adenorff Secretary & Public Officer of the Chamber of the Commerce and owner of 3 CBD properties, President of the Chamber of Commerce Martin Wells , CEO John Rafferty of C.ex plus one other all shaking hands described in a congratulatory manner. I read this from a comment on Coffs Coast Outlook way back in July after that infamous 11th July meeting. I am not saying anything about the greeting and handshakes but these group of men have a lot of power and influence in the descision making with the Gordon St project. The interview was 2017 . All part of the C.ex Strategic plans I would guess especially when talking about Vernon St may one day be a one way street and restaurant / hotel/ residential/ entertainment precinct. The building of the Gordon St $76 million is all part of the strategy. It’s like playing chess and they are treating the ratepayers and residents who object to this building like pawns.

  2. Thank you Coffs Coast Outlook for publishing this article. As an active member of the ‘arts community for the last 28 years you have reflected my greatest fears for the direction our leaders are taking us. Of course we want new gallery and library facilities but not at this cost.
    You are absolutely right. The people of Coffs Harbour are not stupid. They can see very clearly what is going on here and they have spoken with a very loud voice of their opposition to these plans. It has always been the case that profit from alcohol and gambling is behind these moves. We have in many ways a very vulnerable community offering our young people particularly very limited opportunities. Is this the foundation on which we wish to build the future for them. I think not.
    One very important point for those dragging us down this path. The gentleman heading up Hawkridge is the ex GM of Willoughby council. This gentleman resigned for personal reasons in 2o12 not long after the Concourse was revealed to have run over budget by well over 40% due to hidden costs including interest. In fact in excess of $100 million dollars. There is much up for consideration here.

  3. Ron: I fear you may be correct. We, the citizens, have been ‘hood-winked’ for the last nine years. If you follow the Council Minutes you will see the strategic moves that buried our CITY HILL, so that our ailing CBD could absorb every/all growth opportunities. For five months Council has refused to listen, or to admit the extent of the secret deals involved in this dreadful saga. The full story will yet be revealed as those ‘chickens come home to roost’.

  4. Perhaps look at Rooty Hill’s new entertainment Centre. Built by the RSL I feel this is where we are headed.

  5. IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK, QUACKS LIKE A DUCK, LOOKS LIKE A DUCK, IT MUST BE A DUCK

  6. Robert Bailey

    Time for the four councillors to walk out, Counci declared dysfunctional and administrator appointed. The people will decide the outcome in September 2020.

    • Tom Strickland

      Yes Robert; extreme surgery as a last resort! It will require courageous new Councillors to rebuild this mess.

      • Yes indeed Tom ..
        and those brave folk may well come from the front ranks of the current battle/s. After all …the amount of time, effort, emotion, self and financial impact involved in fighting must exceed what being a councillor on a Council comprising upstanding folk would involve. I’d hate to.yrt to put a dollar amount on the dedicated efforts of sooo many ppl

    • This is indeed an extreme option, but it may be the one which ultimately makes a difference. The step past this, I suggest, will involve the laying down of willing bodies in front of construction machinery.
      It is blindingly bloody obvious that “our” council is not our council. It belongs to Denise and her upper crust mates.
      I am not in the least surprised by the attitudes of the lawyers. They are infected by entitlement, the belief that they, as superior beings, know best, and they are influenced heavily by vested interest – it wouldn’t hurt the legal practice at all, to have the new council chambers built next door.
      However, I’m stunned by the attitude and actions of Sally Townley. I am one of those who voted for her, in good faith, at the last election, which now will be the last election at which I vote for her.
      I’ve tried to stand back and have a look at my concept of the Coffs community, developed over a period of 50 years since I first visited as a hairy surfer, and compare that to what I believe to be the concept which is partly driving the current debacle.
      I live in a suburb which seems to be populated by people whose socio-economic “level” corresponds roughly with mine. There are heaps of well-kept three and four bedroom homes on conventional building blocks, with mid-range motor vehicles and the odd outboard powered tinny in the yard. We are neither rich nor poor, and, with the exception of retired old farts like me, most have two working adults supporting the family.
      I think that our suburb is pretty close to being typical for Coffs. There are a few suburbs in which the more affluent dwell – the lawyers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, CEO’s and so on – and there are also a few of those who are sprinkled throughout the “average” suburbs, (look for the Audi’s, Mercedes, and Porsches).
      In addition, there are areas in which the economically less privileged reside, and rural spaces chosen by people with varying degrees of wealth, involved in agriculture, people whom, I believe, tend to be “down to earth” (poor pun intended).
      I’m guessing that the vast majority of those who choose to live in Coffs are pretty happy with the place.
      I’m not rabidly anti-development and I’m definitely not a greenie. In my own mind, I’m pretty ordinary. I’ve seen sensible progress in Coffs over a long period, but nothing convinces me that we need something like the Knight consortium is proposing, jammed into Gordon Street.
      As I understand their concept, it is essential that Coffs “steps up a class”, in order that they can tell their equally rich mates that they live in a thriving, bustling, socially uplifted metropolis, of their own making. They seem to define “culture” differently to me.
      In my view, culture is the sum total of the attitudes, values and practices of the entirety of a community. Ms Knight and company seem to believe that the culture of our very small city needs to be “cultured”, a very different concept indeed.
      Even a small rural town, Bellingen for instance, needs to have venues for appreciation of The Arts, since these places provide opportunities, for anyone who chooses, to be emotionally and intellectually uplifted. This is a totally personal choice and has nothing to do with any perceived social status.
      Ms Knight and Company are far too big for their boots. They want bigger boots. That’s ok for them, but if they try to make us all wear bigger boots, most of us will end up with a severe case of terminal blisters.

  7. An interview with C.ex David Doyle & CEO John Rafferty about the upgrade of the C.ex club ,. purchase of Vernon St properties for future development, talk of hotel ,. C.EX Strategic future plans and Vernon St becoming a one way street.
    https://m.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/facade-facelift-for-cex-coffs/3235592/

    • How interesting. The link I have put up was from 2017 with the Coffs Coast Advocate. It was free and available for all to see when I put the link up. I just went to look at it again and it has now been made into Subscription Pay only.
      Either they do not want people to see the interview or Rupert Murdochs Newscorp who own the Coffs Coast Advocate need all the money they can get. Yesterday Rupert’s son Lachlan Murdoch bought the Beverley Hills Mansion for $ 218,000,000. So I guess they need all the subscriptions they can get!

      • Dear “Old Timer” …I would think that altering the archiving of fully publicly published articles would not be allowed…… Not sure where to take that…. The “old Advocate” used to have months, or years, of hardcopy back issues. Suggest/request youbtry tackling the highest ranking person on staff here. And if no joybthen gonup.the ladder….

      • Maybe it signals they are closely watching this site these days too Old Timer?

        • Yes Editor I would say they are. Your readership I would guess is growing and is Free. The Rupert Murdoch Newscorp Coffs Coast Advocate has lost its way and is receiving so much criticism from comments on Social Media with its content, bias and the direction it has taken. Keep up the good work Coffs Coast Outlook and thankyou for giving alternate news to the Coffs Coast. I wish you and all the volunteer team a very merry Xmas and a happy and prosperous 2020.

  8. Please note 2 x comments dated 13-12-19 and 14-12-19 were deleted from this thread due to legal reasons.

  9. Dear John Bryer, I am neither an “anonymous joe” or a “gutless wonder”. Janne C Lindrum

  10. THANK YOU to Coffs Coast Outlook for publishing this article and well done to all who provided positive and constructive feedback as that is the only way to progress. Special thanks to Ann Leonard for emphasising the hidden costs associated with The Concourse. Jan

  11. Well said, Julian May. Jan

  12. Dear Bernard Lucas, I also witnessed that event. Sadly, I did not have my beloved camera with me but I certainly saw the episode. All sagas need detailed explanations, this one more than most. Janne C Lindrum

  13. We are lucky in that when DAs for SSD (State Significant Development) have more than 25 objections the decision making as to approval comes out of the hands of the Minister for Planning…and…into an independent panel’s lap (one can hope it IS truly independent – but if not at least as this is a state govt matter there IS an ICAC).

    One should note the “SSD” ….. this has been coming for decades in my opinion. Incl as tomthe inclusion of a casino…hence it being a”STATE SIGNIFICANT” Development.

    State Govt may have suggested it to C.ex ….but if not, and it’s the other way round, then there is no in my mind that C.ex LONG AGO approached the state govt.

    The State Govt also has things in mind for our foreshores area that will require further fights by the people who live here. I had some very concerning discussions with NEWCASTLE Crown Lands staff who conducted the public consultation re the four options for fortifying the North Wall.

    I could elaborate quite a lot, but time enough for that when we are fighting against 3 plus storey shop top accommodation (presumably tourist, but maybe not) on the site where the Yacht Club sits.

    Yep…they will claim already consulted on that with us…as that area is Area B in the Jetty Foreshores consultation. In the fine print in ONE place it said something along the lines of “future development, 3 storeys…..”. Mark my words….. Horrifying. BUT ” people power can prevail…it just depends on ppl remaining “engaged” and willing to stand together and fight.

    The other thing will be 5 (or more) storey development on land east of the railway line – where the community wants NONE – on land the Govt owns as Rail Corp (forget the 4 or 5 letter “name” …it might be ARTC). Land between the rail line and Jordan Esp.

    You see folks…the Minister of Planning, or whichever one, at any time – Scomud keeps on rationalising and changing names, (like changing the aged PENSION to being a welfare “BENEFIT”) – that has Crown Lands under their wing is told by above what they have to achieve and all the crown land – to them – is just something to develop into profitable real estate.

    The “Harbour PRECINCT” includes not just the foreshores but also all the water inside of a line from the South Wall across to Muttonbird Is.

    The current fight is just the first of many we will have to stage…. our city, our cherished aspects that sets us apart from our city bring life in a rat race are NOT secure. And what WE think, and desire, or don’t want matters not to a Minister and a Dept that has been charged with churning out revenue via Crown Land, and GAMBLING by powers higher….and none of the beauracrats or pollies LIVE HERE…. and hence don’t even care “personally”.

    The next petition we do needs to be more closely ” crafted”. That tabled in NSW Parliament in late Oct asked for the Minister to take action that her powers don’t provide for, or line up with…

    There were …are…other aspects that she can be demanded to act upon….. maybe I can makevtime to outline those another day. If you are gonna take on such power asvthe State Govt (who would have tried to find some way to tie Minister for Local Govt, The Hon. Shelley Hancock’s hands in the event the petition was iron clad in demanding such actions as she CAN, and must, implement.

    Breaches of Code of Conduct – incl by the Gen Mgr – have taken place and THAT is where a fresh onslaught needs to focus.

    With sufficient proof the point to which a volley of correspondence I have been exchanging with The OLG, Minister Hancock, the Premier and the Dept of the Premier and Cabinet, and the Attorney General currently sits at will …… like a battleship ….slowly change direction.

    It involves producing tailored – extracted from the “drowning pool” of agendas, minutes, codes of conduct, stated and recorded “interests”, etc – evidence that CAN yet see Cr Adendorff be forced to appropriately declare interests, and – with any luck – result in both he and the Gen Mgr being … mmmm…..suspended. Or more.

    I have been invited by the OLG- when I informed it that their response as to the adequacy of Cr Adendorff’s declarations, (at multiple meetings), was not acceptable – to provide (further) information, and evidence.

    I hope to compile such during CHCC’s hiatus. With any luck, and more time consuming hard work, we might get a fresh start come Feb. With Cr Adendorff at the very least excluded from discussion and voting on ” all things Gordon St”, and for that matter anything CBD related.

    Hence removing the inappropriate use of casting votes.

    And if even luckier …the Gen Mgr will be given disciplinary measures and perhaps a suspension!!!

    The powers we need ARE there in the legislation and codes of conduct folks….. stand by for improved circumstances if I can have any success with what my research has armed me with ……

  14. “Snap” now it all fits together , we all knew something sinister was going on .
    All we need now is to learn that the C ex club is wanting to run our Airport , then they can fly in all the Punters .

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