Council throws performing arts open to public meeting

IN BUDGET: Council general manager Warwick Bennett says he's confident the performing arts venue (next to the Post Office) can be built for $11.4 million.
IN BUDGET: Council general manager Warwick Bennett says he's confident the performing arts venue (next to the Post Office) can be built for $11.4 million.

“Everything will be on the table” for a public meeting to discuss Goulburn’s proposed performing arts centre.

The council will host the meeting on Thursday, May 25 from 6pm at the Civic Centre Chambers. Cr Margaret O’Neill had called for the forum several times, arguing that ratepayers hadn’t had a proper say on the $11.4 million project.

Architects are drafting final plans to convert the EC Manfred designed McDermott Centre into a 400-seat venue.

Council general manager Warwick Bennett said costings, design, the location, car parking and the project’s funding were all up for discussion.

‘Everything will be on the table and we’ll answer any question that’s thrown at us,” he said.

“We believe we’ve got the proposal right but if people believe we haven’t, we need to hear about that.”

Asked about the budget, Mr Bennett said he was confident of building the facility within budget. 

It is proposed to be funded through a $1 million federal grant, $1m from the Lilac Time Hall sale proceeds and accrued interest; $1.5m in cash; $3m in grants from either the Veolia Mulwaree Trust or the State Government’s $100m Regional Cultural Projects program; and the remainder through loans, tapping into the State’s low interest (2.5pc) loan subsidy scheme.

“We expect in the worst case scenario to raise $5.2m in loans...which is very manageable,” Mr Bennett earlier told The Post. 

Mayor Bob Kirk said while costings had been completed, Brewster Hjorth architects and quantity surveyors were examining and refining these to meet the budget.

“Hopefully we’ll have all that information at the meeting,” he said

The project has attracted controversy, not least due to the lack of parking provision in the development application. It has been the subject of a 529-signature petition, which also objected to any suggestion parts of the CBD should be closed off for beautification works.

Upper Lachlan Shire Council is completing an independent assessment of the plan, given that Goulburn Mulwaree manages the Crown Land on which the building sits and is the applicant.

Mr Bennett said it was likely the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel would decide the project in the first two weeks of June.