The PerfEx Story
PerfEx – short for Performance/Exhibition – is the acronym for the Batemans Bay Performance and Exhibition Centre Working Group which was incorporated in January 2007. We have a committee of eight and our current financial membership is about 60 individuals and 430 supporting members from other cultural organizations..
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 would also accommodate conferences and seminars.
PerfEx’s major activities to date have been fundraising and lobbying support from stakeholders and all levels of Government, the major ones reflected in the list below:
Key Support Groups & Individuals include:
- Adult Education
- Artisan’s Nest
- Aquatic centre Inc
- Batemans Bay Arts and Crafts Society
- Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce
- Batemans Bay CWA
- Batemans Bay Historical Society and Museum
- Batemans Bay Soldiers Club
- Batemans Bay Rotary Club
- Batemans Bay Lions
- Batemans Bay Writers Festival
- Bay City Cinemas
- Batemans Bay Manor, B&B
- Batemans Bay Swimming Club
- Bowling Representatives
- Clydeview Holiday Park
- Eurobodalla Council Tourism
- Advisory Committee
- Edgewater Gardens
- Eurobodalla River of Art
- Eurobodalla Woodcraft Guild Inc
- Fine Art Studio
- Hire n Hire
- Hospitality representatives
- Indoor Aquatic Group
- Larks after D’Arc
- Lensvision - video/education
- Oyster Industry representatives
- Pike Family investments
- South Coast Music Society
- South Coast Pastel Society
- South East Arts
- South Tribe
- Stanwell Management
- St Cecilia Music Scholarships
- Stepz Dance Academy
- Tourism Operator representatives
- U3A Batemans Bay
- Adult Education
Strongly supported by:
- Ann Sudmalis
Federal Member for Gilmore
- Andrew Constance
State Member for Bega
The following businesses and community groups are an example of those who have pledged practical and in-kind support:
- Local community via the offer of labour and materials
- Bunnings Hardware
- G.J.Gardners Batemans Bay
- Batemans Bay Soldiers Club
- Bay City Cinemas
2007 was a very exciting year and by October, we had sufficient funds to begin our own Feasibility Study. This had come about through various avenues; we had been well-advanced in the process of a Regional Partnership’s Grant, which was then fast-tracked to a Federal Government commitment of $30,000 towards this Study. We already had enough of our own funds, together with $1,000 from each of St Cecilia Scholarships and the South Coast Music Society, plus $5,000 promised from the Eurobodalla Shire Council which brought our kitty up to $50,000!
Unfortunately, a change in Federal Government at the end of 2007 set us back, as the promised Federal Government funds were withdrawn, so we were forced to go back to the drawing board and our own Feasibility Study document which had been ready to go out to tender, was forced to go on hold.
In late 2008, we made contact with the new Shire General Manager who instigated the creation of a Sunset Committee known as the Eurobodalla Shire Cultural Infrastructure Committee to look at the Cultural infrastructure and requirements for the whole shire.
A study was completed in February 2010 which found that although a Regional Centre was not recommended anywhere in the Shire, Batemans Bay needed an arts’ hub as a matter of ‘immediate priority’. This finding was a great vindication of our organisation. After discussion with focus groups and the Sunset Committee the recommended 150-seat theatre was increased to 300 and the gallery space was also increased.
Although PerfEx had always preferred a location closer to the CBD, Council had a strong case for the Hanging Rock precinct and PerfEx had representation on a Sunset Committee to oversee the production of concept Master plan for considerable expansion and upgrading of facilities, including a performing arts centre. This was in 2012 and consultants were eventually brought in to carry out a very broad-based feasibility study for the project. By the end of the year Councillors in particular were nervous about the $10,000,000 suggested cost in the $50,000, 000 overall project. The public were requested to comment on the proposals and in essence were asked to choose between a new aquatic centre and a Performing Arts Centre; their conclusion was the former.
Council are still supportive of providing for culture in Batemans Bay and have assured us that we will be catered for. Currently two possible locations are on the agenda, the site of the current Community Centre and the Batemans Bay Bowling Club which has been forced to close and is currently for sale by the owners, the Catalina Golf Club.
From early 2015, we have been working closely with the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce, Batemans Bay Tourism operators, Adult Education and the Swimming Club to formulate a proposal for the use of the Bowling Club site which we have given to all Councillors. This proposal suggests the inclusion of activities complimentary to one another, which has the advantage of costing Council very little initially, whilst offering a way of giving a real ‘heart’ to our town. All our colleagues independently believe that an arts and cultural facility is essential in our town which means that PerfEx is no longer working on its own! Councillors response has been positively cautious. The main concern is spending too many ratepayer dollars.
Our proposal suggests a Council run facility with central management, using the building as it is with minor changes; there is not the need to spend big dollars as the building is perfectly sound, despite what has been said on different fronts. A few cosmetic changes are all that is needed to begin with.
The current auditorium would suffice for the time being, with minimal improvements to the acoustics. There’s also loads of gallery space for local and visiting artists. In time, there is ample space on the greens to build a box-type multi-purpose ‘theatre’ which would have a removable stage and seating. These types of spaces can be incredibly flexible, catering from such diverse activities as an orchestral event to hosting ‘The Wiggles’, or holding National product conventions.
We also believe that the Tourist Information Centre should operate from here as there’s plenty of long vehicle parking and as Adult Education are keen to expand, this would give their students hands-on tourism experience.
Finally, because the site is so vast, there is plenty of room on the greens for the proposed Indoor Aquatic Centre with dry areas too which are required to make the pool business viable, by adding on facilities like a gym and child minding.
A perfectly good commercial kitchen exists there already and one café could service the whole centre and the beauty is that it’s all so close to the town centre which these centres have to be, in order to be visited.
Such a facility could be a real showpiece at the entry to our town and the gateway to our Shire!
On the 29th April the Eurobodalla Shire Council purchased the Batemans Bay Bowling Club from the Catalina Club although settlement did not occur until early in the 2016/17 financial year. The Council sought Expressions of Interest from the public as to how the Bowling Club site could be used in its current state and secondly what should be provided when the current building is demolished and replaced. The deadline for submitting the responses to the Council Strategic Planning Department’s Divisional Manager, Jeff Morgan, was 10th June, 2016.