Funding needed for a performing arts and convention centre in Busselton

Artist's impression of the kinetic building. Image supplied.
Artist's impression of the kinetic building. Image supplied.

Funding is needed for the City of Busselton to progress the development a performing arts and convention centre in the city's central business district.

The $20 million project remains dependent on the city receiving at least 50 per cent of the overall budget through external funding.

A recent application for $10 million made through the federal government’s Building Better Regions Funding Scheme was unsuccessful, delaying the start of the project.

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said the council had made provisions for the development and ongoing operation of the the Busselton Entertainment Arts Culture Hub in the city’s long-term financial plan.

"Subject to funding the development is earmarked for commencement within the next four to five years," he said.

"However, this could be brought forward if funding is secured earlier or pushed back if funding is not forthcoming."

The city wants to progress with plans to build a performing arts and convention centre and have decided on a design after community consultation was undertaken to seek feedback on two designs.

The survey results indicated the community preferred the kinetic design, which if progressed, would be a world first.

The Kinetic facade could be programmed to a choreographed code or respond to sound in a colourful display.

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said that a dedicated performing arts centre had been a longtime community aspiration.

“This development would consolidate the City of Busselton as the Events Capital of WA by providing an indoor facility with significant capacity," he said. 

"The proposed development provides a 625 seat auditorium, function rooms and flexible wall and seating technologies capable of converting to a 1000 capacity indoor venue.

"The centre would include the latest technologies and have an adaptable floor space that could be modified to suit particular events.”

Mr Henley said with the support of the WA Local Government Association and the Regional Capitals Australia alliance they were lobbying at state and federal levels to introduce dedicated funding for arts and culture capital development projects.

 "There has not been a strong government funding focus in this area for several years," he said. 

"An injection of external funding is required for the project to progress to construction.

"We’ve developed a strong business case underpinned by sound economic impact assessments and while this application hasn’t been successful, we will continue to explore other funding opportunities."

Economic impact assessments estimated that the arts and convention centre had the potential to attract up to 197,000 more visitors to Busselton each year.

When combined with the airport development and interstate flights it would open Busselton up to the conference, convention and trade show market.

From its first full year of operation the centre is foretasted to provide at least three events a week all year round.

While 26 full time positions are forecast to be created to operate the centre, there would be a flow on effect of more than 100 jobs created in the tourism and hospitality industry directly associated with the development as well employment opportunities associated with construction.

The WA Government started consultation for the development of a cultural infrastructure strategy in June last year.

Culture and arts minister David Templeman said the process to develop the strategy was well underway and stakeholder consultation had begun.

“Once finalised, it will provide an important State Government policy framework to support major arts and cultural development projects," he said.

“It is expected the strategy would identify a number of options for supporting major arts and cultural development projects, with a particular emphasis on partnership funding approaches.

“The development of a performing arts centre is a major project for a community, that requires a strong business case identifying the need and use of the centre, and with strong support from the local community."

Forrest MP Nola Marino said she supported this project and would continue to apply for federal funding through other streams.

Ms Marino said there was dedicated funding for arts and cultural development projects available through the Regional Arts Fund which provides $3.4 million per year to support artists and communities in regional and remote areas

"In partnership with the Department of Communications and the Arts, Regional Arts Australia and its member organisations, the RAF provides resources for hundreds of community arts projects each year.," she said.