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Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SHARI TAGLIABUE FOL­LOW SHARI ON TWIT­TER AT WWW.TWIT­TER.COM/SHARITAGS EMAIL | SHARITAGS@ME.COM

Can we talk about Townsville’s ob­ses­sion with re­ports? With the Civic Theatre booked out for a year in ad­vance, smaller the­atri­cal events un­suit­able for the large venue, and events by­pass­ing our city due to an in­abil­ity to se­cure dates, it’s been ob­vi­ous for a decade that one theatre plus River­way’s black box space can’t meet the de­mands of our arts com­mu­nity.

HOW MANY RE­PORTS DOES IT TAKE TO ACHIEVE THE AN­SWER YOU WANT?

Can we talk about Townsville’s ob­ses­sion with re­ports? With the Civic Theatre booked out for a year in ad­vance, smaller the­atri­cal events un­suit­able for the large venue, and events by­pass­ing our city due to an in­abil­ity to se­cure dates, it’s been ob­vi­ous for a decade that one theatre plus River­way’s black box space can’t meet the de­mands of our arts com­mu­nity.

A sub­mis­sion from the Townsville Com­mu­nity Mu­sic Cen­tre to the Townsville City Coun­cil in July 2017 pro­posed that in ad­di­tion to the 1000- seat Civic Theatre there was an ur­gent need for a smaller the­atri­cal space of 200 seats.

It also sought a medium- sized theatre in con­cert hall for­mat of about 600 seats, ideally lo­cated as part of the Civic Theatre build­ing.

This would have al­lowed back and front of house costs and staffing to be min­imised, and ex­pan­sive park­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

The coun­cil ig­nored this sub­mis­sion as the Civic Theatre is not in the Pri­or­ity De­vel­op­ment Area – 97ha of land around Ross Creek, stop­ping just short of the bit the Civic Theatre sits on.

So de­spite the clear ben­e­fits of that site, it called for de­tailed re­ports to ad­vise the best lo­ca­tion of an arts precinct within the PDA.

First came the Pure Projects re­port. It sug­gested three op­tions for con­cert hall lo­ca­tions.

There was The Hive, cen­tred around the Queens Ho­tel, the Cen­tral Park con­cept ( an area on the bank of the Ross River op­po­site Dean Park within the PDA) and the third op­tion, an ex­ten­sion and re­fur­bish­ment of the Townsville Civic Theatre, which lies out­side the PDA.

The coun­cil also com­mis­sioned a re­port from Jen­nifer Bott AO, chair of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Drama and Art, who de­spite “close con­sul­ta­tion” with the arts com­mu­nity, re­jected the TPAS plans to ex­pand the Civic Theatre and sup­ported the Cen­tral Park op­tion.

And now the third re­port com­mis­sioned by the coun­cil, the AECON en­gi­neer­ing re­port has been de­liv­ered.

Af­ter all this, it seems we are back to what any per­son in the street might have come up with without the need for three ex­pen­sive re­ports. But, hey, it’s only our money.

Turns out the Cen­tral Park site in the coun­cil’s pre­ferred PDA is way too small, so it’s sug­gested we forge on with de­vel­op­ing the river frontage to the sta­dium, and build any con­cert hall fa­cil­ity across the road, in Dean Park, which like Reid Park, isn’t in the PDA.

Why the PDA doesn’t in­clude Reid Park is baf­fling. It ad­joins the city and Ross Creek and a half- built bridge leads to the theatre com­plex in Flin­ders St.

But if Dean St Car Park is now the favoured site then we have a big­ger is­sue on our hands.

As re­ported this week in an ar­ti­cle about Aitken­vale Park ( TB, 9/ 10), Dean St is also home to itin­er­ants who use these lo­ca­tions as their pub, lounge­room, bath­room and bed­room.

With no ap­par­ent im­prove­ment in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion or re­lo­ca­tion of these on­go­ing vic­tims of al­co­hol abuse, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the is­sue will be re­solved if the arts fa­cil­ity is to share the same space.

The only sure thing is there’ll be a re­port on it.

PIL­ING UP: Townsville City Coun­cil has a pen­chant for com­pil­ing re­ports for a much- needed arts venue.

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