Letter to the Editor: An entertainment venue for Port Stephens

DEAR News Of The Area,

I PERFORMED recently in the Sea Pictures concert at Nelson Bay Community Centre that was a fundraiser for the Tomaree Cultural Development Group to support their campaign for a performance venue on Tomaree Headland.

The concert demonstrated that there was an interest in what we did (we are a classical vocal ensemble) and an audience unfamiliar with this kind of concert in Port Stephens were incredibly responsive to a live music performance with a personal touch.

We as performers sensed the enthusiasm and were spurred on to try even harder.

The concert also demonstrated how woefully the Port is provided for in terms of fit-for-purpose performance venues.

We pulled apart our family Clavinova and squashed it into my Mazda 3 and the other car that came up had the projector and projection screen.

Mercifully our wonderful pianist Eun-Jung Byun agreed to perform on the electronic piano, when many performers of her eminence would have flatly refused to touch anything less than a concert grand.

The next day we walked the Headland at sunset and as the lights of Shoal Bay came up a single dolphin could be seen in the shallows.

It made me think of sitting at Harbour’s edge in Sydney, enjoying a post-performance wine under the sails of the Opera House (alas, no dolphin!).

The Opera House supports so much more than just opera.

Comedy, magic, jazz and dance are just some of the performances that take place there, and that does not even touch on the educational and community activities it hosts.

Port Stephens, please get behind the push for a beautiful, new arts and entertainment venue at Tomaree Headland.

Let’s be inspired by the Opera House and build something that will complement and be perfectly in tune with the natural beauty of the area.

Unfortunately at the moment there is a ramshackle collection of very tired buildings located there, some of which have heritage listing.

Heritage listing is very laudable when there are beautiful, iconic buildings from the past.

Perhaps it could have saved historic Willow Grove in Parramatta from demolition, which will never be rebuilt despite the promise made at the time.

However sometimes the past gives way to the future greater good, and Willow Grove was sacrificed to make way for the new Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta.

How much less of a sacrifice are the buildings at Tomaree Head?

They are utilitarian constructions which have no beauty and no intrinsic value and have outlived their original purpose.

They are standing in the way of a modern new development which will not be enhanced in any way by their retention.

Port Stephens deserves a clean slate at Tomaree Headland to build something beautiful, inspiring, enriching and engaging for the future, for the people who live here and the increasing numbers of people who will visit here.

Jennifer KAYE,
Music professional and teacher,
Anna Bay

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