21 years in The Clink

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Clink The­atre in Port Dou­glas turns 21 late this month, but while the cel­e­bra­tions will be heart­felt the lead­ing lights be­hind the cul­tural land­mark are fight­ing a con­stant strug­gle to keep the show on the road.

The Clink’s ad­min­is­tra­tor, Claire Tier­ney, is bat­tling on var­i­ous fronts - over more money to fix up and main­tain the 1930s build­ing, and over the need to find greater com­mu­nity in­volve­ment that leads to more help­ing hands. It’s about money and time.

When it comes to a tar­get for fix­ing more or less ev­ery­thing that needs do­ing, plus on­go­ing main­te­nance, it is $52,000, as as­sessed by pro­fes­sional ap­praisal.

About $30,000 would go on struc­tural fix ups such as stairs, rail­ings and seat­ing. Af­ter that there’s the re­place­ment and re­pairs of things like air con­di­tion­ers and lights and sound gear (at the mo­ment two vol­un­teers pro­vide light­ing and sound con­trol, us­ing their own gear. They’ve done this for years).

Ms Tier­ney looks back to be­fore her time, when it was ob­vi­ously eas­ier to raise money and get spon­sors - say, the late 1980s, when the town was buoy­ant. ‘‘When The Clink was re­built back then it was eas­ier to raise money. But you just can’t get it any more,’’ she says. That lively co­hort of spon­sors, ac­tors and donors are now in their 70s and their re­place­ment coun­ter­parts of not ap­par­ent, though the the­atre does have about 126 sub­scrib­ing mem­bers, many of whom are stu­dents do­ing act­ing classes there.

‘‘So ev­ery month we are do­ing a BBQ lunch fundraiser at the Sun­day Mar­kets, which do re­ally well.’’ The prob­lem is, th­ese too are largely re­liant on vol­un­teers giv­ing their time.

Ms Tier­ney has of­fered the venue for hire to any in­ter­ested party but since it only seats 160 it’s lim­ited in its utililty for vis­it­ing acts and shows.

‘‘I need hands!’’ says Ms Tier­ney. ‘‘We need peo­ple! Vol­un­teer­ing is peo­ple do­ing some­thing even if it’s just for a few hours. If I had 40 peo­ple who gave just a few hours of their time per year to work the sausage siz­zle or some­thing like that we’d be a lot bet­ter off.

‘‘Peo­ple should imag­ine what it would be like not to have The Clink here. It gives bal­ance to the com­mu­nity. It is ap­pre­ci­ated - when we do some­thing it’s well at­tended.’’

When it comes to re­cur­rent costs The Clink had a break on its insurance costs - which were run­ning at $7000-$8,000 a year - when the CRC listed it as an as­set on its books and so took over the insurance pay­ments. But Ms Tier­ney is en­vi­ous of other bod­ies which re­ceive gov­ern­ment aid to stay in ex­is­tence. ‘‘At the mo­ment we don’t get any­thing,’’ she says.

By the way, any­one look­ing to get in­volved with The Clink is wel­come at the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing on Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 22, at 5.30 pm.

HAPPY BIRTH­DAY: young stu­dents cel­e­brate the Clink an­niver­sary

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