Seminal decisive moment
Since our June presentation to Council about their 2019 draft budget (see below), a couple of important things have happened.
Council DIDN’T include any budget monies for the planning process that the Community had been asking for. Consequently, no progress has been made with the physical planning for conversion of the Sport and Recreation Centre at Surfworld into a performing Arts Space. This was disappointing. Instead of this, Council allocated money to discuss and consider how a performing arts space may be governed. A meeting has been held about this (which is potentially a step forward), though it was a preliminary meeting only. The June Council meeting asked us (and you) to wait until late August until a decision could be made about the future of the ‘Old Basketball Courts’ at Surfworld. Well. That day has come.
On Tuesday, August 27, Council intends to make a decision about the use of the Recreation Centre and our participation in their decision-making process is required!
We need you to come along to the next Surf Coast Shire Council meeting and wear your wackiest hat to show your support for a performing arts space in Torquay and a home for Torquay Theatre Troupe. Bring your friends, bring your family and bring your hats. Let’s do it together!
The meeting is planned for 6pm but small adjustments may be made by Council dependng on circumstances so check your email in case we need to let you know of any changes.
We have had dozens of people (in hats) attending Council meetings in support of a performing arts space over the last couple of years but this is a seminal moment for the performing arts community.
Please take the time to come out to the Council Office in Merrijig Avenue. If you genuinely can’t make it, please send us your support (text, email, Facebook) and we’ll let Council know your interest.
Thanks – TTT
TTT President Michael Baker gave a spirited presentation to Council on Tuesday 5th June. This was our opportunity to ask Council representatives to re-consider their rejection of our original submission’s request for $30,000 to start the process of transferring the operation of the Surf Coast Sport and Recreation Centre into a Performing Arts Space for the community. Councillors seemed engaged by the presentation and gave us the feeling that they supported our intentions. There was even mention of the need to create a governance structure for management of whatever (community) venue we might end up in.
We need to wait at least two weeks until the council and its staff have balanced the budget and allocated monies according to perceived needs. There were a number of presentations on the Agenda both before and after ours – each with merit and reason, some with much higher budgets and across diverse parts of the Shire and ranging from footpaths to venue promotion and from sports clubs to public toilets.
After that, there will be a decision within a couple of months about what the Shire intends to do with the Surf Coast Sport and Recreation Centre building. That’s a related (but non-budget) decision we also wait for with bated breath. Hold on to your hats! July will be interesting!
‘Funny Hats’ required again.
TTT has the opportunity to provide the Surf Coast Shire with a revised submission for Council consideration and inclusion of a line item in the 2019/2020 Shire Budget.
The presentation will happen on Tuesday 4th June after 5pm (actual time yet to be advised) and we would be forever grateful if you could drag yourself out to our ‘performance’ at the Shire Office, 1 Merrijig Drive, Torquay WEARING your funny / obvious / colourful / large / eccentric HAT – It’s become a non-aggressive symbol of your support – you’re in costume with us!
Here (below) is the proposal we put in to Council on 16 May 2019. We have our fingers crossed that the budget will now reflect the best interests of Performing Arts in the south east end of the Shire.
Surf Coast Shire
1 Merrijig Dve
Torquay VIC 3228
16 May 2019
Damian Waight – Manager Community Relations
Chris Pike – General Manager Culture & Community
Harriet Gaffney – Arts Coordinator
Keith Baillie – Chief Executive Officer
Dear Sirs and Madam,
RE: SUBMISSION IN RESPONSE TO SURF COAST SHIRE DRAFT BUDGET 2019 – 2020
COMMUNITY PERFORMING ARTS SPACE FOR TORQUAY
TORQUAY THEATRE TROUPE
Following the release of the Surf Coast Shire Draft Budget 2019-2020 and the recently changed capacity of the Surf Coast Shire Council to provide arts funding support for a performing arts venue in Torquay, Torquay Theatre Troupe hereby present our amended proposal for a performing arts space in Torquay.
*We also request the opportunity to speak to this submission at your earliest convenience.
Torquay Theatre Troupe is pleased to present this amended proposal for your review and look forward to your support in order to provide the Torquay community with a much-needed community performing arts space.
COMMUNITY PERFORMING ARTS SPACE FOR TORQUAY
TORQUAY THEATRE TROUPE
Torquay Theatre Troupe has been active in the Torquay community for almost twenty years and with limited resources, has independently provided ongoing opportunities for a wide range of community members to participate in all aspects of theatre production and performance, whilst also providing affordable and accessible theatre shows to the local and wider community.
For over ten years Torquay Theatre Troupe has stressed the need for a community space that supports the production and development of local theatre and arts created for, and by, the local community. Over this time the Troupe has continually lobbied for the support and assistance of the Surf Coast Shire in order to provide an appropriate venue for performance and arts in Torquay.
COUNCIL INVOLVEMENT & IDENTIFIED COMMUNITY NEED
- Community consultation undertaken for the 2009 – 2014 Surf Coast Shire Arts and Cultural Strategy identified that the provision of a community performing arts space was considered a priority by the Surf Coast community.
- The 2015 Arts Space Feasibility Study undertaken by Council provided further confirmation that a theatre arts space was a much-needed facility in our growing community.
- The 2018 Arts Space Feasibility Study identified that the current Sports and Recreation Centre in the Surf World precinct, once vacated, could be repurposed as a performing arts venue at a cost of less than two million dollars.
- In 2018 Council advised that they would consider allocating funds in the 2019-2020 budget in order to undertake further planning and design relating to the arts space project (Ordinary Council Meeting 27/11/18: Agenda item 6.2).
- The Surf Coast Shire Draft Budget 2019-2020 indicates that the shire no longer intends to provide financial support towards performing arts and a community theatre in Torquay and has instead channelled funding elsewhere, including yet another community arts and culture study.
Despite community consultation and council feasibility studies, we are no closer to delivering a home for the performing arts in Torquay.
We respectfully suggest that withdrawal of proposed funding support for a long-awaited community performing arts space;
- Ignores the needs and priorities that have already been clearly identified and articulated by the community
- Specifically contradicts the stated purpose of the existing Surf Coast Shire Arts Strategy.
It is proposed that a Performing Arts Space be established in Torquay to provide the community with the resources to participate in a performing arts and cultural environment that has not been afforded to our community to date.
It is further proposed that the Sport and Recreation Centre in the Surf World precinct remains a suitable venue (as identified in the 2018 Arts Space Feasibility Study) and once decommissioned, can be adequately adapted into a Performing Arts Space at minimal cost to the Surf Coast Shire Council by engaging an independent committee of management and seeking external funding support.
To provide the Torquay community with a long-awaited and much needed performing arts space:
- At minimal cost to the council
- Independently managed and run by an arts community committee
GOALS & BENEFITS
The proposed community performing arts space will provide a wide range of benefits to the Torquay and the wider Surf Coast Community, including the following:
- A low-cost interim solution that does not impact upon future plans for a cultural hub in Torquay
- A dedicated space supporting community arts
- A home for the performing arts in Torquay
- A community ‘owned’ and developed performance and exhibition space
- Opportunities for use of the space for a range of artistic and cultural pursuits including musical performances, theatre, dance concerts, art exhibitions and classes
- Repurposing a disused building for community benefit
- Raise the profile of performing arts in the Surf Coast Shire
- Provide a hub and community for independent performing artists and groups
- Year round community access to a performance and exhibition space
- New energy and vibrancy to the Surf World precinct
COMMUNITY WELLBEING & ENGAGEMENT
- Art is an integral part of a healthy society with demonstrated benefits for individual mental health and well-balanced communities.
- A community arts space will provide facilities for the Torquay and wider Surf Coast community to learn and share, create, connect with others, build skills and engage in artistic self-expression through creative and performing arts.
- Participation in the making and enjoyment of performance and creative arts has no limits regarding age or ability and has the capacity to engage a wide demographic, supporting our youth as equally as it can entertain and bring together our senior community members.
IDENTIFIED POTENTIAL USERS
Identified potential users of the proposed Community Arts Space listed below come from a range of arts streams including theatre, dance, writing, visual arts and music, as well as community and cultural groups, and have shown an interest in utilizing a community performing arts space in Torquay.
PERFORMING ARTS GROUPS AND CREATIVE PRACTITIONERS
- Torquay Theatre Troupe
- Stagecoach Productions
- Drop of a Hat Productions
- Swamp Fox Productions
- Skin of Our Teeth Productions
- Anglesea Performing Arts
- 12 dance companies
- 6 singing groups
- 10 independent artists (visual artists, writers, musicians)
EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
- Community theatre performances
- Dance concerts
- Play readings
- Book readings
- Music recitals
- Writing workshops
- Book launches
- Drama classes
- Art exhibitions
- Theatre production workshops
- Community group meetings
- Dance classes
Torquay Theatre Troupe requests that the Surf Coast Shire Council facilitate the provision of a community performing arts space in Torquay via the following:
- The Surf Coast Shire hand over the management of the Sports and Recreation centre building (once decommissioned) to a governance group/committee comprised of community performing arts representatives.
- The Surf Coast Shire provides funding of $30,000 in the 2019-2020 budget in order to facilitate the establishment of the above-mentioned governance group, to undertake necessary scoping and planning of the project, to research operational models and to develop management guidelines for the facility.
- The building to be managed by a committee of arts community representatives, with the Torquay Theatre Troupe being the principal lessee of the building.
- A memorandum of understanding to be drafted between the Surf Coast Shire, the committee of management and Torquay Theatre Troupe regarding occupancy, maintenance and operation of the building, which is to be reviewed regularly.
Torquay Theatre Troupe respectfully encourages the Surf Coast Shire Council to take this opportunity to reconsider the shire’s capacity to provide resources for a community performing arts/theatre space in Torquay.
In summary, we propose that:
- The current Sport and Recreation Centre be repurposed as a community performing arts centre.
- The Surf Coast Shire hand over the management of the Sports and Recreation centre building to a performing arts management committee.
- The Surf Coast Shire provides funding of $30,000 in the 2019-2020 budget to establish a building management plan.
- That Torquay Theatre Troupe be the principal lessee of the building.
This amended proposal presents a low cost and independently managed performing arts facility that will enrich the arts and cultural engagement opportunities for our community. We look forward to your support and assistance in providing this long-awaited and much-needed resource for the Torquay community.
We look forward to further discussion regarding this submission.
April 28, 2019.
TTT NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT AS COUNCIL PROCRASTINATES
In 2014 Torquay Theatre Troupe (TTT) presented a proposal to Surf Coast Shire Council for the creation of a performing arts space (a theatre) at the Torquay Sports and Recreation Centre.
In 2015 the Council spent $30,000 on a feasibility study which confirmed the need for such a facility and which presented two options for the refurbishment of the whole building for costs of $5.7m and $11.6m respectively. As both options were considered too expensive the studies were subsequently shelved and no further progress was made.
After funding to build new basketball courts was obtained by Council, in May 2018 TTT re-submitted their proposal for the development of the Sports and Recreation Centre as a performing arts space. During that year Council spent another $30,000 on a feasibility study to ascertain the suitability of a more modest conversion of the site at a cost of less than $2m. The study found that the building is suitable and can be converted for less than that sum. TTT was encouraged when a motion was passed in November 2018 that Council would consider allocating funds in the 2019/20 budget to undertake further planning including detailed design.
The encouraging results of the feasibility study, its acceptance and enthusiasm of Council representatives led us to expect that the project would proceed.
That expectation has just been dashed! The Draft Budget, released 23 April, 2019, has ignored the finding of the 2018 feasibility study and has instead dedicated a further $65,000 of ratepayers’ funds on yet another feasibility study on the cultural (not theatre) needs of the local population.
We at TTT (Committee, members and supporters alike) are disgusted by this waste of ratepayers money and the lack of action. If you agree with us, let your Councillors know by emailing them, and by expressing your displeasure on social media. We will keep you informed of any changes to this awful situation.
Council Member email addresses are as follows:
- Rose Hodge email@example.com
- Clive Goldsworthy firstname.lastname@example.org
- David Bell email@example.com
- Libby Coker firstname.lastname@example.org or Libby.Coker@vic.alp.org.au
- Martin Duke email@example.com
- Carol McGregor firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brian McKiterick email@example.com
- Margot Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
- Heather Wellington email@example.com
HERE IS THE TEXT FOR FEDERAL POLITICIANS
Surfcoast Shire Council, in the electoral division of Corangamite, has conducted two feasibility studies, (total cost $60,000). The first successfully established the need for a theatre for community use in Torquay. In November 2018 the second study confirmed the engineering feasibility of converting a soon-to-be vacant Sports and Recreation Centre into a Performing Arts Centre.
Now, merely five months after Council acceptance of the engineering recommendations and design, these findings are being ignored, the project shelved and $65,000 allocated in the draft 2019-20 budget to conduct yet another feasibility study on the cultural needs of the community. This will mean that $125,000 will have been spent, at least five years wasted, an arts community disadvantaged and disgruntled – and still no performing arts space!
Torquay could have had a workable Performing Arts Space for drama, comedy, music and dance with an area for exhibitions, rehearsal, practice and training. But the Council is not prepared to spend the money to achieve what two feasibility studies have endorsed.
Your political party has recently pledged considerably more for a swimming pool in Torquay than the estimated cost of a Performing Arts Centre. While sporting infrastructure is important, the Theatre and Arts Community of the area would like to think that the development of culture deserves some consideration too.
Here is a chance, in a marginal electorate, for your party to demonstrate its commitment to the arts with a pledge of $2,000,000. Are you prepared to support the arts?
Federal politician email addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Scott Morrison)
More relevant information is below…
February 12, 2019 – Rationale for Performing Arts Space in Torquay
The text below is a modified version of Glen Barton’s letter to Libby Coker.
Please select the person/organisation/political party you would like to send the letter to (more than one letter is even better!) and include your chosen details replacing the text in red.
I am a politically engaged and aware voter in Corangamite and an involved community member in my home town, Torquay. I have been involved in grass roots community campaigns concerning XXX.
I would like to raise an issue with you which I feel is of vital importance to our community.
Torquay Theatre Troupe Inc. (TTT) is a highly respected theatre company which produces high quality plays, both as entertainment for the community, as well as being a very strong creative community within itself. However, our current location, the senior citizens’ centre, poses some fairly large barriers to the sorts of plays we can stage, and also act as a barrier to attracting more and more people (especially young people) from the community to engage in the creative arts.
On several occasions over the last five years TTT, thanks to an active Committee and also to locals Glen Barton and George Carman, have presented proposals and draft plans to Surf Coast Shire for a Performing Arts space (theatre and exhibition) in Torquay. Late in 2018, Council received the consultants’ report confirming that the Sport and Recreation Centre behind the Surfworld Museum is suitable for redevelopment as a performing Arts space. Surf Coast Shire Council has recently made a commitment to funding the next stage of investigating and designing the redevelopment. TTT has a sub-committee working on the proposal for a dedicated local Torquay theatre space so the “stars seem to be aligning” for the future of a theatre in Torquay.
I wanted to write to you now to ask whether <insert party/agency/person name here> would be willing to make an election promise to assist with partial funding for the Torquay Performing Arts space.
It is supported by research that arts facilities and artistic outlets have massive social participation and health benefits for the community as a whole. Benefits include community engagement (both audiences and people who want to become involved with a creative community); a space that can be utilized a range of creative artists (gallery space for visual artists, dance studio, artistic workshop space etc); ability to screen movies when not in use as a theatre; a dedicated space for local and touring musical performance to name a few. A theatre would also allow TTT to present even higher quality plays, and have a “home base” to build and store, create and store costumes, rehearsal space and the like. The arts space would also be able to be used by many community groups, professional artists, government and commercial agencies and so provide a benefit to a broad spectrum of our community. It would also give an outlet to those who would be more able and willing to engage in creative pursuits than the plethora of sporting pursuits that are on offer in our town. It is well understood that involvement in creative communities is something that enhances wellbeing, both for individuals and communities.
New, competition-standard basketball courts are being built near the Surf Coast Shire offices. The proposed theatre would involve refurbishment of the OLD Surfworld Basketball stadium following the opening of the new stadium. I believe the total cost as currently estimated would be somewhere around $2M. This is a small amount in the context of a federal budget, but a commitment that would bring huge benefit to the Surf Coast community, and allow <party> to have another very strong leg to campaign on in the local area.
One thing that is vital in this proposed development is that a facility MUST remain accessible to community groups. GPAC in Geelong is priced to return a profit and is accessible to wealthy touring productions. A locally built venue following this pattern would completely defeat the purpose and negate all benefits to the community.
I look forward to hearing from you about your intentions with regard to a performing arts space in Torquay.
November 28, 2018
Thanks to all those who supported us by sending emails to try to convince Council to choose Option 3. There is some really good feeling and passionate support out there! Thanks also those who turned up to the busy Council meeting. We struck a night that had a couple of major agenda items on it (Big Oil and Land use planning) so TTT’s approach to ask them to consider preparing to get work started earlier was basically given short shrift. Whilst generally in support of our intentions, the suggestion was not successful and Council will, therefore, not proceed with any works until a line item has been agreed for the 2019-2020 budget later this year. We move forward.
November 24, 2018
On Tuesday 27th November, Council will be voting on a recommendation (Option 2) to put a line item in the 2019-2020 budget for a Theatre / Arts Space in Torquay. TTT is asking its supporters to get along to the Council Offices (Merrijig Drive, Torquay) at 6pm on Tuesday to display support for the theatre proposal and to recommend the Councillors choose Option 3 (three) which would initiate building designs sooner rather than later… BYO Zany hat! It worked last time!
As some of our followers may have learned, we were successful in our submission to Council for a line to be added to the 2018/19 Budget.
Since then Council have been swift to move and have contacted representatives from the performing arts community to work on a Project Control Group. The group has worked with Council to promote a local theatre / gallery / arts space. The original brief was to get some consultants to evaluate the technical feasibility of using some of the retiring basketball court as a theatre. The Consultants were appointed, prepared a report, sought feedback from the Project Control Group and are almost ready (17 October 2018), to present their report to Council. Frankly, it misses the mark when compared with what the were asked to do but it does suggest that the arena could readily be converted into a theatre / arts space. We expect a positive response from Council and will be pushing for funding for the Performing Arts in the east end of the Shire. After that, we expect that we will work with Local, State and Federal Government representatives to seek funding from various sources to develop the theatre and promote performing arts in the Shire. This may include private individuals, businesses, ‘buckets’ of arts funding, sponsors, philanthropic organisations and so on.
Watch this space – it may feel like watching paint dry (a slow process) but the last 6 months has seen a seismic swing in favour of the Torquay and district arts community (not just the Torquay Theatre Troupe), and that’s a great thing to see.
TTT made a presentation to Surf Coast Shire Council on 5 June 2018 (7pm). We attracted the physical support of over 30 people to Council Chambers and presented for 5 minutes.
This is the presentation. In simple terms we requested that Council dedicate $30,000 in the 2018/19 budget to get suitable architects and engineers to calculate the cost of getting a small performance space in the basketball court at SurfWorld. We requested that the process include TTT representatives in those discussions. A further $750,000 (+/- 30%) was recommended for 2019/20 for installation of the performance space in time for TTT’s 20th anniversary.
This was a radio interview done on 4th June 2018.
Thanks to all of you who came out to the presentation.
This is the original full (24pp) submission.
We appreciate all the work that went into the submission including letters of support, conversations and advice from architects, consultants and engineers, personal and moral support from TTT members and particularly the work done by George Carman who prepared the submission. The presentation was made by George Carman and Michael Baker (TTT President).
Decision is due on 26 June.
The following document was prepared upon request for use as a starting point for discussions between the Shire and a land developer.
TTT supports the development of a theatre facility at the gateway to Torquay with iconic state-of-the-art facilities that will serve for future generations of the Surf Coast Shire arts community. A theatre must be designed by a theatrical architect and not simply from our suggestions or recommendations. TTT wishes to be actively consulted in the process and nominates Mr Michael Baker (a long-standing member and current Committee member) as its representative for the process.
The following represents discussions by Torquay Theatre Troupe Inc. Committee and members about its minimum requirements for the development of a theatre in Torquay.
- A theatre which has
- Seating for 120 people.
- A performance area approx. 12M deep x 8M wide PLUS wings (minimum 4 Metres each side), with wing access on both sides, (total 12M deep by 16 M wide). (At present TTT is uncertain if area is to be a conventional proscenium arch/stage or a ‘performance space/black box’ and wishes to discuss with professional planners /designers. Options for cyclorama, projection screen curtain travellers, lighting grids and fly lines to be discussed with designers)
- Appropriate infrastructure for lighting grids (fore and aft), sound and projection equipment and fixed A/V communications between bio-box and backstage
- Adequate access for bringing in and removing large sets (3-4 metres) with appropriate sightlines for audience
- Appropriate acoustics
- Dressing rooms backstage with accessible cast/crew toilets
- A foyer large enough for patrons to gather prior to performances.
- Storage area for sets, set construction, furniture, props and costumes – minimum 16 x 20 Metres (may be underground).
- Backstage: 16M x 6M to include 2 dressing rooms, toilets, temporary set storage etc.
- Comfortable raked seating for 120 (possibly retractable or telescopic)
- Foyer with box office, patron toilets and kitchenette/bar (for 120) (Approx. 16M x 10M)
- Interior height adequate to have lighting grid and catwalk above performance space. Minimum 6 metres.
- TTT would like to retain the naming rights to the theatre.
- All services for the building.
- Infrastructure for internal and external signage
December 21, 2016
TTT has always wanted a “home” of its own but, as an amateur theatrical company, would not be able to generate enough of its own income to purchase land or do building in the town. It would be the role of Local, State or Federal government and / or private support to provide the infrastructure for performance theatre in the district.
The majority of our productions since 2001 have been done at the Torquay Senior Citizens’ Hall in Price Street. The hall was renovated in 2008 (?) to include lighting bars, upgraded electrical wiring, a new ceiling (to replace the straw one where possums lived and ran free over the audience), an extended stage, large screen TV, upgraded chairs and a sound system. During that time we used the Bellbrae Hall. We have appreciated (and paid an annual fee for) the use of the hall and the Senior Citizens (and other users) have shown great forbearance with TTT’s comings and going with seating platforms, set building and use of the ‘wings’ and we thank them for that.
Nonetheless, TTT has long been in conversation with local government about our desire for a performance space and has invited Local Government representatives to our Committee meetings, been deeply involved in a local survey about performance and arts space questions, presented to the Shire about our basic needs.