Jetty Theatre part of Denise Knight's tale

JETTY Theatre will be at the top of her list for discussion when new councillor Denise Knight attends her first council meeting next week.

Cr Knight would like to see management of the theatre returned to the community theatre groups who operated and managed it until the council undertook a $1.6 million renovation of the building in 2003.

“I need to do my homework and find out how deeply involved Coffs Harbour City Council is; how much is being paid out in wages; what (the theatre groups) would like; are they capable and would they step up to the plate,” Cr Knight said.

“My aim is to get it back to the locals.”

The theatre was built by the Coffs RSL Sub Branch and the community as a memorial to World War I soldiers and was equipped and run by representatives of local theatre groups for more than half a century.

It was re-opened in October 2003 after a $1.6m renovation.

Local theatre groups have never been satisfied with the arrangements put in place after the renovations regarding their access to the theatre, the consultation process and their lack of a role in management of the facility.

Shirley Barnett from the Association of Coffs Harbour Community Theatre Societies said yesterday such a move was 'very practical and it should happen'.

She believed it would also save council money in the long run because of the work done by volunteers.

Mrs Barnett said Port Macquarie provided a good example of the idea in practice.

“They own their own theatre and run it themselves with 'grey power' (retirees)” she said.

“It does not mean there would not be a theatre manager.”

The former chairman of the Theatre Board of the Australia Council, John Mostyn, who now lives in Coffs Harbour, said he knew the idea was perfectly feasible because he had done it and it would save and even make money.

He said the Glen Street Theatre, owned by Warringah Council, had been 'an absolute disaster' before the council was persuaded to distance itself from the theatre and appoint a board of management.

“It has been a huge success ever since,” he said

The former Australian Opera director and co-founder of Sydney's Nimrod Theatre said he had provided details of the Glen Street project to Coffs Harbour City Council four years ago.

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