New concert hall is the right fit for Townsville

Date published: 18 August 2017

Townsville arts aficionados will have a greater choice of venue and spectacles to watch after council received recommendations for the best location to place a purpose-built concert hall at Monday's special council meeting.

The report recommends Central Park or the Queens Hotel site for a new purpose-built concert hall capable of hosting a broad range of productions and has space to display Townsville’s premium art collection.

The council prioritised the best location for the venue as Central Park on the banks of the Ross Creek due to the proximity it will have with the new stadium and the opportunity to create an entertainment and exhibition precinct.

Jennifer Bott AO, Chair of the National Institute of Drama and Art, was commissioned to deliver The Feasibility Study for a Concert Hall in Townsville that revealed the city would benefit from constructing a new facility in the CBD.

Mayor, Councillor Jenny Hill said the report showed Townsville had a significant demand for a custom-built venue but is currently unable to meet the demand with existing facilities.

“Townsville is rich in arts and cultural events that would be enhanced and invigorated with a facility specifically designed for concert and musical performances,” Cr Hill said.

“70% of all bookings at the Civic Theatre are from the Townsville community and this shows we are very passionate about our arts and cultural experiences.

“With such a high use of the Civic Theatre that is booked out years in advance, it causes difficulties in attracting national and international productions, and a new venue will relieve these difficulties.

“The recommendations tie in with the Pure Projects report and the CBD revitalisation plan with the creation of an entertainment and exhibition precinct in the vicinity of the new stadium and within the Priority Development Area.

“The report goes as far as to recommend that the governance and management of the venue to be given sufficient freedom and only report to council for efficient delivery of agreed key performance indicators.

“This management model opens more funding opportunities to come from philanthropic organisations and other types of sponsorship as the ‘hall for hire’ model does not work anymore.

“The new facility would also have a focus on celebrating indigenous cultures that runs deep in our community and offer learning and engagement opportunities to the community.

“The new concert venue needs to be built to provide opportunities to offer concerts and cultural events, and also have the capacity to generate real experiences that people can smell, see, hear, taste and touch.”

Ms Bott left no stone unturned in terms of consultation for the report, having spoken to numerous local arts and cultural groups, as well as operators from similar venues to recommend the operational model that should be applied to the proposed Townsville facility.

Despite heavy lobbying from the Townsville Performing Arts Centre for the Townsville Civic Theatre to be used as the dedicated performing space, due to demand and the operating model, this proposal was rejected.

Councillor Hill said a new concert hall also needed to have room available to display artworks whether they are a travelling exhibition or highlighting local artists.

“Townsville City Council has approximately 3,000 pieces of art in its collection with most of it in storage and a new venue will offer more opportunities to rotate this collection and promote our local talent.”