Bid for ‘creative precinct’

The need for a Performing Arts Centre in the Latrobe Valley has shifted keys to a multipurpose ‘Creative Precinct’ in the hope to secure State Government funding.

Latrobe City councillor Dale Harriman said Regional Development Victoria had indicated that a Performing Arts Centre on its own would not have a huge impact on the region.

“Advice from State Government is that a proposal for a ‘Creative Precinct’ is a lot more palatable to fund than a Performing Arts Centre,” Cr Harriman said.

At Monday’s council meeting the councillor amended a motion of an $8 million contribution to a PAC be increased to $10 million given the recommendation. All nine councillors supported the motion.

The councillor said a precinct that could be used day and night, with greater community access and a plan for Federation University to use Traralgon’s Little Theatre as a production space for students, had potential for the long term.

He said the plan would also account for extra seating, a digital screen set, a studio room for smaller cabaret events and training spaces.

“We’ve had a detailed plan done and discussed it with a range of theatre producers. There is a need to future-proof the building so that the building is still used in 15 to 20 years,” Cr Harriman said.

The State Government is expected to review a draft proposal of the $30 million project in the next two weeks as part of a three-way funding split between Latrobe City Council, State Government and Federal Government.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said there was no doubt the state and federal governments were looking to provide funding for facilities that had multiple uses.

Mr Northe said he personally had no objection to seeing how the facility might be used in different ways such as training courses and better outcomes for user groups.

“But I am cognisant of the fact that the cost of the facility will rise with it,” Mr Northe said.

“I wouldn’t like to see a proposal fall over because it has all the bells and whistles and it’s difficult to get appropriate funding to deliver it, when in reality what the community groups and user groups are calling for is a modified and redeveloped PAC.”

Mr Northe and Member for Eastern Region Melina Bath have called on the Regional Development Minister to meet with Latrobe Performing Arts Centre redevelopment advocacy group, ‘Get it Built’.

“It’s important the minister meet with representatives of ‘Get it Built’ to understand how vital this project is for Latrobe Valley residents and the future of our region,” Mr Northe said.

Get it Built proponent and Latrobe City Project Reference Group member Dan Clancey said council’s $10 million capital funding commitment was the most significant thing in local arts in 50 years.

“There was jubilation and celebration last night and the fact that it was a unanimous decision shows a unity to get it built,” Mr Clancey said on Tuesday.

Council has committed to providing ongoing operational costs of the new PAC, estimated to be in the order of $1 million per year.