Supporters for the creation of a local performing arts centre have penned a letter to Bathurst Regional Council outlining their proposal for the historic TAFE building on William Street to house the facility.
In a six-page letter to Bathurst mayor Bobby Bourke, the Performing Arts Centre [PAC] group highlights a need for council to consider creating a centre of learning to serve "not just as a venue for visiting artists, but a regional home for the arts where a wide variety of talents can be nurtured, educated and promoted."
"In creating a regional centre for the performing arts, we would retain the imposing presence of the TAFE building and ensure its long-term future providing education and opportunity, while attracting visitors to special events in a symbiotic relationship between creativity and public exposition," the letter said.
"The TAFE Building lends itself almost ideally to conversion: the 300-seat hall on the first floor with its natural acoustics and wonderful spatial presence is perfect for recitals, major rehearsals, dance and drama among other activities."
"Such a facility would give dignity and presence to the arts and tell people we care about such things...they are important, some would say vital, to our wellbeing and our sense of being in a culturally conscious city."
In the letter, the PAC group has respectfully asked councillors to set aside a budget of $5 million in the next budget for a staged approach towards the adaptive re-use of the TAFE building.
"Such a modest sum in an environment of negligible interest rates will ensure that the building will be fully accessible and compliant with current regulations and codes," the letter said.
"It will ensure that the TAFE Building is restored, enhanced and suitably inhabited; giving life, purpose and meaning to its continuing presence in the streetscape and importantly enlivening the Bathurst Town Square precinct."
"As occurs with similar projects across Australia, State and Federal funding may also be sought by council to deliver a high quality outcome."
The PAC group also outlined in the letter the potential for the centre to grow the appeal of Bathurst as an arts hub to ensure more musicians, artists and performers choose to call the region home.
"It is our view that this city is of a size and stature within a region which continually produces outstanding and talented artists only to lose them through lack of opportunity."
"We have music students who attempt courses online through Rockhampton University; theatre students who have to go to Sydney to learn a variety of crafts...they are forced to leave this city to exercise their talents elsewhere."
"There is a cultural imbalance in this city. It is largely the reason we keep trying to attract professionals to venture west rather than practice in metropolitan areas and to do that successfully, we must give them a reason to be here."
In response, Cr Bourke, who has expressed frustration for years over the TAFE building impasse, said all community submissions for the building will be given a "fair chance".
"We've sat on the TAFE building for too long, yes, but it's also been a difficult year for council to find funding to secure its future," he said.
"The performing arts centre is one of many ideas we envision will be on our agenda, and with council elections approaching, we need to get cracking on this sooner rather than later."
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