I note with great interest Michaela Boland's article, "John Barilaro, Don Harwin overruled expert advice on regional arts funding, documents reveal" published on ABC Online Thursday March 14.
The article gives voice to comments from Councillor Mark Rodda regarding the future of a proposed cultural precinct in Tamworth. In those comments, Cr Rodda intimates that Tamworth will miss out on a new theatre complex as a result of funding allocation.
I strongly reject Cr Rodda's assertion, and would like to offer a counterpoint to his comments.
I serve as the President of the Tamworth Dramatic Society; as a member of the Tamworth Regional Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee; and as a delegate to the Tamworth City Centre Working Group, of which Cr Rodda is a member. I am able to speak on this matter with considerable understanding.
The article referred to a $3 million in funding, and implied (through Cr Rodda) that missing out on this amount had scuttled Tamworth's hopes of building a new theatre complex.
It baffles me that Cr Rodda can imagine the new theatre would be built for anything close to this amount.
The recent construction of a new theatre and convention centre in Dubbo was delivered for around $18.5 million. This project was scoped well below the aims of the Tamworth plan.
During the last twelve months, I have been consulted by Tamworth Regional Council and their associates on several occasions regarding the new theatre complex.
I can assure your readers that at no point in those consultations was the success or failure of the project tied to this funding.
What will be necessary for the cultural precinct to succeed is a forward-thinking Council, acting with support from State and Federal government. No doubt funding will be needed too, most likely from a number of different sources.
The cost of the project is not yet determined. It is still in the initial design consultation stages, and progress is exceedingly promising.
I have had a number of people contact me today asking about Cr Rodda's comments, and I'm very disappointed by the politicising of this issue.
Tamworth has a rich theatrical history, and a vibrant theatre community. There are several community theatre groups which stage several major productions each year.
The Tamworth Dramatic Society is about to stage The Three Musketeers at the extant Capitol Theatre, and also tour a production of the Pulitzer-award winning play I Am My Own Wife right across the region.
The Tamworth Musical Society will pack crowds in to see its upcoming performance of Beauty and the Beast. The wealth of shows that tour here are the best indicator of why we want and need a new theatre.
The people of Tamworth are strongly committed to building a new cultural precinct, and Cr Rodda's error should not reflect the attitude of the community as a whole.
I invite Cr Rodda to look again at the proposals that have been made, withdraw his suggestions that all hope is lost, and to consider supporting the Tamworth theatre community rather than attempt to use us as a political prop.
Tamworth Dramatic Society President