Performing Arts Centre back on council agenda

IF you are a theatre lover or you’re passionate about going to the best rock concerts you may be getting the best Christmas present you could hope for.

Ipswich Local can reveal the new top class Ipswich Performance Arts Centre that has been talked about for years is now back on council’s priority list.

The idea for a new centre has been thrown up before every council election over the past 20 years, but other than a grandiose concept plan getting drawn up by the old council in 2018 nothing ever happened.

Now as council faces a $5m plus refurbishment bill to keep its 47-year-old Ipswich Civic Centre operable a project team is moving on a feasibility and demand analysis to see if it can happen.

Council has engaged CBRE’s Development and Infrastructure division to review the current creative, performing arts and event markets to understand how best to service the needs of this growing sector as Ipswich continues to expand.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said CBRE has been asked for a report to help inform a future decision on potentially upgrading and or expanding the existing facility in the city centre.

“Council’s Interim Administration postponed planning and development of a Performing Arts Centre in 2018 and this was closely followed by the uncertainty of the COVID 19 pandemic,” Mayor Harding said.

“The cost of executing the existing plans from 2018 for an Ipswich Performing Arts Centre would be well in excess of $200 million in today’s dollars.

“At the time, there was no appetite from the Federal, State and Local governments to commit significant funding to the concept. This was before the added financial pressures of the COVID 19 pandemic and the state’s ongoing flood recovery.

“Council will recommence the investigation into how we best foster and support our city’s vibrant arts and cultural landscape, and whether an expansion and redesign of the Ipswich Civic Centre would meet this demand.

“Our city’s rapid population growth requires ongoing investment in social and cultural infrastructure to continue to position Ipswich as an innovative, inclusive and culturally diverse city.”

Community, Culture, Arts and Sport Committee Chairperson Councillor Andrew Fechner said an updated analysis of the city’s performance spaces was needed to shape a potential expansion of the Ipswich Civic Centre and deliver fit-for-purpose event and performance facilities for the city.

“The Ipswich Civic Centre is our city’s premier performing arts and function space, and, like many residents, I have wonderful memories of enjoying shows and performances there over the years,” Cr Fechner said.

“However, council has forecast that the almost 50-year-oldbuilding will require significant future capital and maintenance works to ensure that the centre is able to meet contemporary requirements.

“These costs will be factored into council’s pre-planning process with CBRE, who are well-placed to provide valuable insight given their experience with projects including the Cairns Convention Centre, Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast, Brisbane Live and Parramatta Square Redevelopment (Sydney).”

The outcomes of the analysis work by CBRE are expected to be reported to council early in the new year.

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