A space to perform in

COFFS Harbour City councillors have agreed to a feasibility and cost-benefit assessment of a performing arts centre, which explores options for public/private partnerships and the expansion or redevelopment of existing premises.

Cr Nan Cowling failed to win support for an amendment that removed these two options, which Cr Keith Rhoades described as the most important part of the recommendation put before the council.

He was supported by Deputy Mayor Garry Innes who said the lack of a performing arts centre was restricting local talent.

The mayor, who entered local politics on a platform of improving cultural facilities - especially developing a performing arts centre - moved the recommendation, which included the development of a new cultural strategic plan for 2017-2022.

The current plan is due to expire in 2016.

The council will use $90,000 from the Future Fund to finance the work that will be the subject of a further report to the council by mid-2016.

Cr Sally Townley questioned the relationship between the council's existing cultural plan and the aspirations embedded in it, with the new plan, which she said specifically favoured scoping out an entertainment facility.

She referred to the lack of any mention of an Aboriginal cultural facility.

Director of Sustainable Communities, Chris Chapman, referred her to a list of six points which he said defined the new project in terms of the current cultural plan. The list includes Aboriginal and community languages.

Cr Rodney Degens said he was very pleased to see the council starting to bring back the town hall, which was "glaringly absent".

Cr Cowling said the location of a performing arts centre had been discussed since 1970, and in 1986 City Hill was selected from 17 possible sites.

"This land is far too valuable to sit idle for this length of time - let's get on with it," Cr Cowling said.

The mayor said "going back and forth and debating sites" was the reason the project had been delayed.



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