We should make every effort to get the concert hall right

Now it turns out that the failure to provide a Regional Performing Arts Centre lies entirely with the State Government (“Regional Performing Arts Centre blame game continues”, edition 218).
The whole idea of an RPAC long predates the mooted Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, so this is just a red herring to divert attention from the Council’s utter failure to grasp what is required in the way of a concert hall and to plan and budget accordingly.
The obsession with the concept of an RPAC and with its location in Gosford has totally obscured any rational consideration of this matter, and we need to go back to basics and decide exactly what it is that we need, where it will best serve us and how we can draw up a convincing business case for the facility.
First of all, we need a simple concert hall, designed with the proper acoustics for this kind of venue and shawn of all the costly extraneous features that the elusive RPAC seems to have accumulated over the years.
Possibly, something like The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon would serve the purpose.
This will get the cost down to a realistic level (does anybody actually believe that the RPAC was going to be built for $30M?) and allow for some sensible budgeting.
This should be accompanied by a realistic assessment of the potential audiences, estimated revenues and ongoing costs, so that we can be sure that a concert hall is a viable investment for the community and not the pie-in-the-sky vision that we’ve had to date.
I hope that it would be, but I’d need to be convinced before I’d accept committing ratepayers to this capital outlay.
Secondly, we need to place the concert hall where it will most easily attract the greatest audience, and this is clearly not in downtown Gosford.
The most obvious location would be adjoining the Arts Centre in Wyong, where it would be reasonably central to the Central Coast population and would have the possibility of economical joint management with the existing operation.
Failing this, a less satisfactory solution would be to link it to the Laycock St Theatre, although this is not a very desirable position, or, as a third possibility, to establish it as part of the Ourimbah University Campus, which is not a bad solution, particularly if the Conservatorium can also be relocated as part of a future Faculty of Music).
Thirdly, we need to show some financial nous in this matter.
Going cap-in-hand to other levels of government for handouts makes us look like a bunch of spongers, unless we can demonstrate that we’ve already made our own budgetary assessment and can stump up the wherewithal for an appropriate share of the cost.
One way to raise the funds would be to abandon the silly Regional Library project and divert the funds to a concert hall that could be a community asset and not the expensive white elephant that a library would inevitably turn out to be.
This would show willingness and give a good argument for reinstatement of whatever promised outside funds can be retrieved from the shambles created by Council.
Regrettably, I think there are too many egos involved in this exercise for there to be any chance of a logical approach from Council (and other parties), but a concert hall is a lifetime commitment, so we should make every effort to get it right.
Does anybody else care?

Email, Oct 27
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy

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