COMMENT: Arts discussion remains for the select few

Twyford Hall, Merimbula
Twyford Hall, Merimbula

With both the Bega Valley Regional Gallery and the Twyford Theatre projects deserving of funding, how is the Cultural Infrastructure Program Management Office (CIPMO) to proceed?

The second round of funding is for $25million, Twyford Hall is looking for $7.4m and at the last count the gallery was looking for around $5m. Clearly Bega Valley Shire is not going to get half the allocation for the entire state.

Twyford Hall committee is now about to refine its bid to include recent market analysis based for last year’s touring shows. The challenge for the committee will be to get that elusive council support. One of the ways might be to have council access a low cost loan for part of the project value.

The gallery’s challenge is to identify where its new home might be.

We understand that councillors received a briefing last week. Proposals to expand into the existing council office building could be fraught with high cost and OH&S issues as the building has asbestos content. A better option might be the upper floor of the little-used Civic Centre.

Interestingly we are told that at the briefing no mention was made of the arts and culture industry workshop held on February 14 at Bega Valley Regional Gallery, from 9am until noon.

The workshop is an opportunity for people to contribute to the strategy development process.

The information derived from this community consultation will help inform the NSW Cultural Infrastructure Plan to 2025 so it’s hardly insignificant.

Once developed, the plan will provide a framework to inform detailed future state project development, local cultural infrastructure strategy, land use planning, development proposals and infrastructure funding decisions, CIPMO said.

Pretty important stuff.

So why no mention of it at this council briefing, why no information to local media so that we could alert interested parties, and why were some councillors completely unaware of this meeting until we informed them?

CIPMO said invitations were sent to arts organisations. In regional areas artistic endeavour can often be a one-man or woman organisation. Information about this event needed to be much more widely distributed.

That is of course if the parties involved really want our opinions.