A theatre for Torquay
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.