THE PUBLIC could be a financial backer of an ambitious $128 million arts and culture precinct as Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) considers all options to push the project across the line.
Expressions of interest will be put out for a lead architect to run the show, but without state or federal government funds it could be a day late and a dollar short when the Capitol Theatre lease expires in 2023.
The idea to turn to the public came from councillor Juanita Wilson, who has been approached by members of the community that want to contribute alongside government funds.
"It means we are keeping to our timeline, however I think we need to be really smart now - we have certainly outgrown the Capitol [Theatre], it doesn't cater for the performers or audience or allow us to activate the creative and cultural ability we have here," she said.
"We need to now look at actively and urgently seeking funds for this and we need to be smart because there will be elections this year and if we can encourage the community to indicate this is something that's really burning then it becomes a political asset."
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.
The 15-year lease at the Capitol Theatre is almost up and performers are cramped for space, council's Entertainment Venues manager Peter Ross said.
"If people love the arts, they want to feel they contributed in their own little way so they can tell their children and grandchildren they did their bit to get it here for Tamworth," he said.
With Tamworth's 50th country music festival in January 2022, the council has "one year" to get funding, Cr Glenn Inglis said.
"It's the 50th anniversary of the Tamworth Country Music Festival and the 50th Golden Guitar Awards - the 50th anniversary of anything is known as the golden jubilee year," he said.
"Let's hope 2022 is a golden jubilee year for the performing arts and cultural centre, and the wise people above our pay grade put some money into this."
Council's business case shows the new precinct would create 11 full-time jobs and inject $1.6 million into the economy each year.
Funding opportunities will be sought from the state and federal governments.