The PerfEx Story
This is a story about a dream, a dream to make The Visual and Performing Arts visible in the community life of Batemans Bay and its environs. It started with a small group talking among themselves about providing a space where The Visual and Performing Arts and artists could meet, flourish and inspire – and, hopefully, will end with a purpose-built and designed performance and exhibition space for artists and performers, both local and visiting.
PerfEx (an incorporated body) – short for Performance/Exhibition – is the acronym for the Batemans Bay Performance and Exhibition Centre Working Group which was incorporated in January 2007. The driving force behind this project was Jeannie Brewer, the inaugural and decade long president. Her recent successor is Sue Mackenzie, previously the vice president. PerfEx has been supported by dedicated committees and supporters over all those years. The latest Committee is listed on our Committee Page.
The PerfEx Mission: “To bring to completion the construction of a centre for the performing and visual arts, to meet the current and future needs of the Batemans Bay Community”
Since adopting this mission statement, research, demand and viability factors all point to a full multi-purpose centre being the right model for Batemans Bay. Such a centre could also accommodate conferences and seminars.
We have a committee of eight with our membership representative of the wide range of artistic endeavours and groups in the community.
In April 2016 the Eurobodalla Shire Council purchased the Batemans Bay Bowling Club and there was much excitement around the idea of adapting this building for use as a performance and exhibition space.
So in 2016, PerfEx put in a submission for the use of the old Bowling club as an ongoing Community Arts Centre. This idea was superseded by Council, making the site ‘Operational’, with a view to a PPP (public private partnership) for various commercial ideas. This did not eventuate either and the idea of a Visual and Performing arts centre moved to being incorporated into an indoor pool leisure centre on the present Batemans Bay swimming pool site.
2 + 3 Concept Plans
In August 2017, a proposal with two concept plans was released to the public. It was not met warmly. However, the idea of a Performance/Arts centre being in the Bay was planted and welcomed. Grants were applied for and gained by Council; architects were engaged and in January 2019 three more concept plans were released. These were more readily received and wide feedback was given by the community.
In later 2019 we are expecting Concept ‘D’, the result of that community and Council input and, if accepted, the project will begin in 2020. The entire project still includes an indoor aquatic centre and an Arts centre, though they may now be in different buildings, though on the same site.
The Arts facility is, at June 2019, still in a state of flux in relation to its inclusions and core direction, with minimal Visual Arts and exhibition spaces in the concept plans of 2019; a fixed, rather than flexible, theatre area and changing inclusions as time passes (e.g. a recording studio, one minute a 500 seat theatre with flexible seating; the next a 350 seat theatre with fixed seating).
PerfEx continues to lobby for a facility that is a vibrant Arts hub where arts practitioners of all kinds have a place, want to be there, can find facilities helpful to them, and is affordable.
As well as direct lobbying, PerfEx remains a member of the Mackay Park Sunset Committee, a council and community committee to oversee the development of the project. Ancillary to this we have sent in submissions on the proposal for the Performing and Visual Arts space at Mackay Park (and previously at the old Bowlo site); responded to the Creative Arts Strategy and the Mackay Park Plan of Management; written a submission directly to the architects engaged for the project; contributed accepted ideas to the design principles; organised a presentation by Council Arts and Library officers to the general Arts community on their theatre experience; presented at Council several times in relation to the project and its flow-on effects such as the possible disposal of the Batemans Bay Community Centre, ran a petition that yielded 1001 signatures (almost 10% of the town population) and maintained an ongoing presence in the local media.
We also directly support local arts through contributions to the St Cecilia Youth Music Scholarship and the Photography club, and volunteering at the Sculpture on Clyde exhibition.
You can read more details of these submissions and recent activities in the History page on this site.