Con still lobbying for funding

COFFS Harbour Regional Conservatorium will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year and is hoping the Federal Government will look kindly on its desperate need for larger premises.

The Conservatorium has an 11-month funding deadline to move into a new home.

The NSW Department of Education and Training last year pledged $250,000 towards new premises and an anonymous private donor pledged $750,000, giving the Conservatorium half the money needed to buy the premises they have in mind but both offers are time limited.

Conservatorium Director Carol Hellmers said they managed to extend the deadlines for the two offers from June 2009 to the end of the year, but there was still a big task ahead.

While they have also managed to extend the lease on their current premises at HomeBase until the end of 2009, she said they were facing increased rent on premises already considered too small for future needs.

Ms Hellmers said they had lobbied Coffs Harbour City Council last year for Federal Government infrastructure funds. This week the council was notified that their application for infrastructure funds to begin redeveloping Brelsford Park had been successful.

Ms Hellmers said they had now approached three Federal Government ministers for assistance - the Minister for the Arts Peter Garrett, the Minister for Education Julia Gillard, the Minister for Regional Development and Local Government Anthony Albanese and the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development Gary Gray as well as sending a 'fabulous number' of postcards to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

“It is very challenging lobbying governments,” Ms Hellmers said.

“We are hopeful because although we are only a small organisation, we are only looking for a small amount of money.”

The Conservatorium is also working to raise funds locally and Carol Hellmers said the popular Oz Opera visits had been a 'fabulous' fundraiser, raising $25,000 for the cause last year.

“No one has been able to visualise what the building will look like, so we are doing a graphic design presentation.”

As part of its celebration of its first quarter century, the Conservatorium is organising a full weekend of musical entertainment at the Jetty Theatre on September 26 and 27

People interested in helping the conservatorium with fundraising can contact Carol Hellmers on 6652 1592.

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