Need For A Cultural Centre
The demand for a Cultural Centre came from the many cultural groups who live and work in the Queanbeyan community. Despite having a very active professional and amateur arts community, Queanbeyan has not had its own dedicated theatre since the 1970s and has very limited public exhibition space to host local, travelling or permanent exhibitions. The rapid population growth and increased size of the City since the 1980s increased the need for such a facility.
The Conference Centre in Crawford Street has served as a multi-purpose venue for theatre, concerts, exhibitions as well as meetings, weddings and trade shows since it was built in 1988. Council has been lobbied by community groups for a purpose-built Performing Arts and Cultural Centre for the city and in 1996 this led to the appointment of a Cultural Development Officer for Council and the establishment of the Cultural Advisory Committee which comprised with representation from a wide range of cultural groups and organisations in Queanbeyan. In 1997 a Cultural Centre Steering Committee was formed to progress the development of a Cultural Centre for Queanbeyan. The Committee included community and business representatives, Councillors and Council staff.
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Council resolved to set up a Cultural Centre Reserve in the 1997/1998 Management Plan and to set aside $50,000 each year for the project (increasing to $100,000 annually from 2003-2004). In November 2000, Council engaged consultants to prepare a preliminary design brief for the proposed Cultural Centre. The consultants undertook extensive consultations with the community in late 2000 and 2001 to ascertain the present and future cultural requirements of the Queanbeyan community and surrounding region.
On the basis of the consultations, concept plans for the proposed Cultural Centre (initially to be built above the Library) were drawn up and were endorsed by Council on 4 July 2001. The concept plans included a 350 seat theatre, exhibition space and workshop spaces to be located in council owned buildings in Crawford Street. The concept plans were placed on public exhibition and received favourable feedback from the community.
A preliminary Business Plan was commissioned in February 2002 which involved detailed discussions with similar theatres and cultural centres in the ACT and in Regional NSW, and with the NSW Ministry for the Arts.
A more detailed Business Plan for the Centre was prepared by an external consultant in December 2003 with projected income and operational costs for the first five years and was endorsed by Council on 17 December 2003 and placed on public exhibition. A key component of the Plan was that the management, operation and promotion of the proposed theatre and exhibition space would be integrated with the Conference Centre. This integration is to provide a strongly enhanced capacity and functionality for the combined facilities and provide greater scope for marketing and attracting the broadest possible variety of performances, functions and activities to the City.
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Funding For The Centre
The State Government has been very supportive of the project and during 2002 and 2003 provided a total of $1,125,000 in grants. The Federal Government has also been very supportive and committed $550,000 in May 2004 through the Regional Partnerships Program for the proposed Centre. The local Queanbeyan Players have undertaken considerable fundraising and have raised $50,000 for the project.
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Development Of Final Designs And Plans
In December 2003 Council resolved to progress the design and construction of the Cultural Centre in stages, commencing with the theatre and exhibition space component of the project, and to allocate $1.5 million from unrestricted cash funds to match the other funds secured for the project.
On 17 December 2003, Council accepted a tender from the architects Bligh Voller Nield for the design of the theatre and exhibition gallery component of the Cultural Centre. The architects investigated other adjacent sites for the Centre and in April 2004 Council endorsed a recommendation that the Cultural Centre be built behind and physically connected to the Conference Centre.
During 2004, the preliminary sketch plans for the proposed Centre were considered and amended by the Cultural Centre Steering Committee and considered by Council at a special workshop in August 2004. In January 2005 Council agreed to proceed with the plans, tenders and contracts for the construction of the Centre. Further investigation of adjacent sites was considered in early 2005, and on 15 June 2005 Council confirmed the recommended location behind the Conference Centre.
On 29 August 2005, the final design plans for the Centre were approved by Council and a Development Application was lodged on 17 October 2005, and placed on public exhibition. An external assessor was engaged to independently assess the development application. A well attended public meeting was held on 15 November 2005 to provide information on the Centre and to discuss issues raised by the community, such as car parking. The public consultation period was extended to 5 December 2005 to allow more community input on the project.
The final report and recommendations from the external assessor were presented to Council on 21 December 2005 and Council approved the development application for the Cultural Centre to proceed. Expressions of interest to construct the Cultural Centre were called for in February 2006.
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Construction And Naming Of The Centre
On 2 August 2006 Council endorsed the final estimates for the construction of the Centre and approved Project Coordination to project-manage the construction of the facility. The construction commenced in December 2006.
The naming of the Cultural Centre was discussed by the Cultural Advisory Committee and on 28 February 2007, Council adopted a recommendation for the Centre to be called the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. At a Council workshop on 12 December 2007 the logo of “The Q” Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre was adopted by Council for branding and marketing of the facility.
A Program Manager was appointed in September 2007 to commence development of a full performance program for the Centre
The Centre was completed in February 2008 ready for the official opening by His Excellency, the Governor General on Saturday 1 March 2008.
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