HIRING a lead architect is the next step to bring a $128 million performing arts precinct in Tamworth to life.
The build could start as soon as October 2022, after Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) meets this week to discuss the design brief and expressions of interest for someone to lead the project.
It all hinges on money, as the council works to secure funds from the state and federal governments, TRC Entertainment Venues manager Peter Ross said.
"The report being presented to councillors at [this] week's meeting is all about getting planning for this project to the stage where we are ready to act on funding opportunities when they may become available," he said.
"The design brief sets out the optimal functional requirements of the precinct's facilities to ensure it can operate effectively and deliver on its intended purpose for our community as well as visitors.
"The lead architect will develop and evolve the brief to become a key reference in the process of putting together construction contract documentation."
The precinct at the end of Peel Street near the library would include a 600-seat main theatre, a 200-seat studio theatre, two large rehearsal rooms, a 150-seat cafe and restaurant, and a new piazza at the front of the precinct.
It would also incorporate the local music conservatorium, include an inner-city conference venue, professional recording studios and outdoor event space.
A face lift for the surrounding library and art gallery is also in the works. But, time is of the essence as the 15-year lease for the city's only theatre, the Capitol, expires in November 2023.
The concept of a Tamworth Performing Arts Centre and Cultural Precinct drew strong community support in 2019 when the council first suggested its $128 million business cased based on an October 2022 start date.
The expressions of interest for a lead architect won't come at a cost to the council, that will meet on Tuesday.