Performing Arts Centre to be split in two

The Latrobe Valley is one step closer to seeing a Performing Arts Centre, despite no funding on the horizon.

After years of arguments about whether the PAC should be in Traralgon or Morwell, Latrobe City Council adopted a plan to build a performing arts centre at the existing Traralgon arts precinct.

The plan would also include a secondary project to build the convention centre component of the facility in Morwell.

It is not yet known exactly where the convention centre would be built, but could be part of a refurbishment of Kernot Hall.

Also unclear, is whether the existing ageing arts centre in Traralgon would be demolished.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said the decision was a long time coming and had waited to see this result since he first stood as a state candidate in 2006.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen over the ensuing years many councillors playing politics and ignore independent consultant reports and council office reports,” Mr Northe said.

“It’s been a long wait for a sensible decision offered and realised.”

At Monday night’s meeting artist Dan Clancey spoke to council about the value of a “shovel-ready” project although funding had not been allocated.

In an analogy, Mr Clancey said in May 1886 the French Government invited architects to consider an ‘iron tower’ that later became the iconic Eiffel Tower.

“They had no funding for it, so as a part of the architect’s brief they made sure that it could make money to pay for itself,” Mr Clancey said.

“You never know what you’re going to have if you don’t have the vision for it first. I would encourage council to look at a Performing Art Centre in a creative way.”

But like the redeveloped Traralgon Aquatic Centre, the Latrobe Performing Arts Centre and Latrobe Convention Centre have seen little promise of state or federal government funding.

Councillors Kellie O’Callaghan and Graeme Middlemiss opposed the proposal, arguing that by splitting the project into two, it “won’t get funded”.

Cr O’Callaghan said it was nice everyone agreed and was happy with the split model, but wondered “how on earth” separating the project would see it funded by state and federal governments.

“This is not a solution. We’re not going to see an arts centre or a convention centre,” Cr O’Callaghan said.

Traralgon Community Development Association president Axella Johannesson, who headed a council petition for the Traralgon site, said there was a better chance of getting a Performing Arts Centre if it was split from the Latrobe Convention Centre.

She referenced the success of the Moe Activity Centre Plan and how it had been funded in stages.

“I think projects have to be funded that way,” Ms Johannesson said.

“At the moment, as far as I can see, there is no urgent need for a convention centre in this area.

“But larger travelling shows go past Traralgon, they go to Warragul or past us to Sale. If we were able to have this world-class sort of facility, the money that is currently leaving for Wellington and Baw Baw would go to our own local businesses.”