A report on entertainment centre options for Coffs Harbour has been delayed due to Covid-19.
A report on entertainment centre options for Coffs Harbour has been delayed due to Covid-19. Christopher Chan GLA101211WALK

COVID delays Council's progress on entertainment centre

UPDATE: A report on entertainment centre options for Coffs Harbour has been delayed due to Covid-19.

Coffs Harbour City Council, Group Leader Community and Cultural Services, Sian Nivison has confirmed the report will come to Councillors in August.

A discussion paper on what the region needs in terms of indoor and outdoor performance spaces was on public exhibition from late December to February 28 this year.

A further report based on the public consultation was due this month but that's now been delayed to August.

It comes as C.ex Group CEO John Rafferty revealed their plans for an entertainment centre have been put on hold. 

TUESDAY: Plans by C.ex Group to build an entertainment centre have been put on hold.

 

Coffs harbour city Council council meeting re cultural CentreC.ex John Rafferty. 11 July 2019
Coffs harbour city Council council meeting re cultural CentreC.ex John Rafferty. 11 July 2019 Trevor Veale

CEO John Rafferty has confirmed the possibility is becoming less likely, particularly in light of Covid-19.

"There's less chance of it happening now, it's a big investment," Mr Rafferty said.

"We have to see if trading gets back to where it was before the shutdown. We've been shut for ten weeks so we can't just expect people to automatically come back into the club - we don't know how people's habits will change."

With the absence of an entertainment centre in plans for the $76.5m Cultural and Civic Space there's long been speculation about the C.ex Club's plans to fill that void.

The proposed Cultural and Civic Space along Gordon Street.
The proposed Cultural and Civic Space along Gordon Street.

"We had been trying to seek a private/public funded arrangement but there didn't seem to be too much traction in that area.

"So we will be thinking about things that are more cost effective for the club right now than an entertainment centre. There are better ways to go.

"We have had a significant dent in our cash flow."

The C.ex Coffs Harbour club reopened its doors to members only on Monday after a 10-week closure. The club has seven eating areas, so a 350-person limit has been imposed based on the 50-customer rule for restaurants across NSW.

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Late last year Coffs Harbour City Council published a discussion paper on what the region needs in terms of indoor and outdoor performance spaces.

The paper, which was on public exhibition until February 28, identified that a growing regional city like Coffs Harbour should have a theatre of approximately 600 to 1,000 capacity while also retaining the Jetty Memorial Theatre.

Consultants also identified a need to plan for a Performing Arts Centre in Coffs Harbour.

The fit-for-purpose centre would take approximately six years and cost between $50m to $60m in 2019 figures.

The centre would cost between $850,000 and $2,000,000 to operate per year but would provide significant economic, social and cultural benefits to the region.

Former Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser with Ann Leonard, Fran Stevenson and Steve Gooley with the petition against the Cultural and Civic Space.
Former Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser with Ann Leonard, Fran Stevenson and Steve Gooley with the petition against the Cultural and Civic Space.

The discussion paper also says that any performing arts centre should be in the Coffs Harbour CBD, which consultants say aligns with the City Centre Masterplan adopted in 2013, sound fundamental planning principles and industry best practice - which recommends the location of any new major performing arts space to be in central locations with easy access to restaurants, cafe, retail outlets and other entertainment activity.

Some, including the previous Member for Coffs Harbour have long pushed for an entertainment centre to be built at City Hill.

RELATED: Mayor says Andrew Fraser has always been 'wedded to City Hill but he's clutching at straws'

Investigations into a performing arts space have been ongoing since 2015.

In February 2017, Council embarked on an independent Issues and Options paper to seek clarity on the purpose, type and size of the proposed facility.

In 2018, the scope of this was expanded to include outdoor performing arts spaces.

Hawkridge Entertainment Services, a specialist entertainment industry consultancy, drew up the interim Issues and Options document after consultation with around 30 organisations and individuals that hire venues across the Coffs Harbour area for performing arts activities.

A report on the latest round of public consultation is due to go before Council in the coming months.



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