Coffs Eisteddfod venue juggling highlights community’s angst over lack of Performing Arts spaces

Winners of 14-years vocal major awards, (L-r) Adjudicator Mr Richard Morphew, Lillian Cruwys, Lily Arnold and Hunter Metcalf.

 

COFFS Eisteddfod venue juggling has brought to a head, once again, the performance community’s question to Coffs Harbour City Council, ‘Where did the proposed Performing Arts Centre, that you consulted us about, go?’

Francesca Montanaro, owner of Harbour Performing Arts Centre in Coffs Harbour, who has numerous dance students in this 49th eisteddfod, said the dancers are performing in two different venues.

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“Five years ago, I was given the opportunity by Council to talk with Hawkridge building consultants to tell them what I wanted for a Performing Arts Centre in Coffs, as were a number of other stakeholders,” Francesca told News Of The Area.

“All of us had a say and essentially said we needed a 500–600-tiered-seating performance space with a twelve-meter-wide stage, ten meters deep, with wing space on the sides and an orchestra pit.”

Essentially, a proper theatre.

This, the stakeholders said, would attract high quality touring companies on their way from Sydney to Brisbane.

“It made sense to us to build it on a large parcel of land, outside the city centre,” allowing for expansion.

“CHCC decided on a city centre location, next to the ex-Services club and drew up plans for a Cultural and Civic Centre with no performance space,” said Francesca.

“There are a lot of dance schools here in Coffs, a performance space would be serving and enhancing the lives of locals.”

“This is the longest running cultural event in our region,” Vanessa Crossley, Eisteddfod Vocal and Dance Coordinator told News Of The Area.

“When we had the civic centre the Eisteddfod could hold all of its large sections in this venue.”

Local schools’ infrastructure cannot support the thousands of competitors.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of Coffs Harbour Education Campus who have been exceptional with their support to allow us to hold our event this year.”

The CHEC venue has a 400-seat capacity which limits audience numbers per session.

“However, this was our only option which in a large regional centre like Coffs Harbour is disappointing.”

 

By Andrea FERRARI

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