Cultural Precinct Revitalisation: A New Performing Arts and Convention Centre

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This site provides information about the Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre and the development of a Cultural Interpretation Framework for the Cultural Precinct in Queen Street Busselton. It is being updated regularly to help you stay informed.

Update - 11 September 2020

To date the City of Busselton has been unsuccessful in securing $9.5 million from the State Government to support the development of the Performing Arts and Convention Centre. As a result, and in line with Council's resolution on 24 June (C2006/066), the project budget and scope has been reduced from $30.3 million to $28.5 million.

While the

This site provides information about the Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre and the development of a Cultural Interpretation Framework for the Cultural Precinct in Queen Street Busselton. It is being updated regularly to help you stay informed.

Update - 11 September 2020

To date the City of Busselton has been unsuccessful in securing $9.5 million from the State Government to support the development of the Performing Arts and Convention Centre. As a result, and in line with Council's resolution on 24 June (C2006/066), the project budget and scope has been reduced from $30.3 million to $28.5 million.

While the City will continue to pursue all external funding opportunities, the project will progress to tender without inclusion of the Creative Industries Hub.

In accordance with the resolution noted above, Council will consider the outcomes of the tendering process and final pricing before determining whether the project will ultimately continue. Pending the outcomes of the tendering process Council may endorse (as a funding strategy) entering into loan borrowings of up to $15 million over a 20 year period and / or the use of reserve funding.

The loan amount may be considerably lower given the highly competitive tendering environment - we've already received seven expressions of interest from the construction industry - three from local businesses and four from Perth-based businesses.

Useful Resources

On the right you can access a library of documents relating to the Performing Arts and Convention Centre development.

This includes an updated version of the Business Case which was submitted to the State Government in June this year requesting funding support for the project. The Business Case was updated on 10 September 2020 to remove references to the BEACH noting that no name for the centre has been determined yet. The update also includes an important addendum to the original submission. Milestone dates have also been updated.

A prospectus provides information about how the centre will look, feel and function. A summary overview of stakeholder engagement is also attached for those interested in seeing how the project has developed over the past decade.

You can also access the latest designs and concept drawings supplied by Architects Kerry Hill, noting that these designs may be refined further as consultation with stakeholders continues.

A list of FAQs is also available covering a range of questions.

You can also share your views on the development of a Performing Arts and Convention Centre and ask questions of City Officers, Councillors and other community members in the open forum. Some prompts are included under the forum tab below but don't feel constrained as these are just conversation starters. This open discussion is a good thing – we need to share our collective passion and concerns. In posting and responding please respect the views of others. If you prefer not to post an open comment or question please email precinct@busselton.wa.gov.au

Background Information - Performing Arts and Convention Centre

Progression of a new Performing Arts and Convention Centre in the Busselton Cultural Precinct has been endorsed by Council after many years of consideration. While the design process is well underway, the final decision to progress with construction of the project will be made after the tender process has been completed.

The project has met with some concern primarily over:

  • Costs
  • Impact on Rates
  • Timing
  • A perceived lack of investigation and community involvement
  • Benefit to the community

To help you form your own opinion on the merit of this project, we ask that you consider the facts and open your mind to the economic, social and cultural opportunities the development presents.

Let’s consider cost!

A 2012 Cultural Needs Assessment identified the requirement for a 300 seat theatre in the district. Council accepted this report as a guide to future planning. A construction budget of $20 – $22m was identified for the future theatre at that time. Nearly 10 years later we’ve seen rapid population growth and progressing with a 300 seat theatre would simply be a waste of money.

The new centre designs include a 600 seat multi-purpose auditorium and as a result, the project cost has increased to between $28.5m and $30.3m depending on whether or not the creative industries hub is progressed at this stage. This is not an unrealistic cost increase over the timeframe especially noting the additional features which have been incorporated in the design to ensure the facility’s long-term sustainability. Along with the creative industries hub, these features include a convention centre and art gallery.

In 2019 the City received an offer of $10.35m from the Federal Government to advance this project. Sale of the old Library building site in Mitchell Park has seen a further $2.6m directed toward the project. The project may benefit for additional State Government funding which could significantly reduce the size of a loan needed to close the capital funding gap and progress the project. The loan required could be as high as $15m but it could be a lot lower. Either way, with interest rates currently around 2%, fixed for the whole term and spread over 20 years, repayment is very manageable. If we don’t progress with the development the City will be required to hand the $10.35m back to the Federal Government with little likelihood of re-securing funding in the future.

Just like any other major community asset, there will be annual running costs associated with this development. The estimated annual cost will be around $1.2m which includes funds put aside for future maintenance and renewal.

This is less than the cost of operating our libraries and comparable to costs associated with running our leisure centres. With Council proposing to invest $37m into sport and recreation over the next 10 years, isn’t it about time we invested in culture and arts?

Impact on Rates

At 2%, fixed over 20 years, the cost of the construction loan can largely be absorbed by the City of Busselton with little impost on ratepayers. Over the next few years several higher interest rate loans will be repaid by the City. Given this and the fact that repayments of the new loan will not commence for two years, we do not see any significant change in rates associated with loan repayments.

Yes there will be ongoing costs to ratepayers associated with operating and maintenance as is the case for all community assets. We estimate that average general rates will increase by $40 per annum in the first full year of the venue’s operation. As the ratepayer base expands with population growth, it could be well less overtime. Importantly the capital costs associated with this development will be shared across generations of users – they are not incumbent on current ratepayers

How about the timing?

Yes historically low interest rates make this a good time to proceed but stimulating the local economy in the post COVID-19 environment is equally important. The State and Federal Government has asked Local Governments to identify shovel-ready projects to create jobs and to focus on local procurement and services – this is what we are doing.

This development will support local recovery during the construction phase and as an ongoing entity. Importantly there will be longer-term benefits for the tourism, events, retail and accommodation industries which are some of our major employers.

Activating Queen Street is essential to revitalising our town centre. Central to this is linking the foreshore to the CBD, being able to host large conferences and attract more events especially during winter.

The timing of this development has never been more critical.

Has it been properly investigated?

Extensive research, market analysis and industry consultation has been undertaken over the past decade. In 2016 the South West Development Commission identified and accepted a performing arts and convention centre in the City of Busselton as a major priority alongside the airport upgrade (SW Blueprint).

Since then the City has developed two project business cases. The first secured $10.35m in Federal funding and the more recently updated version is being considered by the State Government now. You can view the most recent business case in the Your Say library.

Over the years we’ve sought input from industry experts and visited similar centres operating across the state and country. We looked very closely at what works – and what doesn’t! It was clear from these investigations that designing a fit-for-purpose facility was essential to its success.

The City has liaised particularly closely with the Glasshouse in Port Macquarie which is a similar-sized regional City with many like attributes. You can read more about the Glasshouse here

Underpinned by a passenger-ready regional airport, a multi-million dollar foreshore upgrade, future hotel developments and a strong events and tourism profile, the case for the Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre is very robust.

What community involvement!

Community engagement on this project extends back to 2008. Visit the Your Say document library to view a timeline of engagement and decision making associated with the Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre.

Benefit to the community

The Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre is designed as a multi-functional facility, providing new experiences and opportunities for all ages to enjoy and benefit from. It will be a place to perform, graduate or receive an award with an audience of family and friends. You can meet for casual drinks in the laneway bar before enjoying a meal in the CBD.

Local businesses will have the opportunity to cater for conference dinners, exhibit and network at tradeshows and conventions. Accommodation providers and tourism operators will benefit from increased visitation as will local restaurateurs, café owners and retailers. The new centre will enable the City to expand event offerings and provide a suitable sized home for CinefestOZ.

Inspired by opera, ballet and orchestra performances, locals may like to take a drama, music or dance class – we’ll have the space and the facilities you need! Those interested in local produce can savour South West delicacies, boutique wines and craft beers at expos which, given the multi-functional floor space, can also cater for car, boat and camping shows.

The centre is an investment in our future

Cultural Interpretation Strategy - Update 11 August 2020

To help determine how the new performing arts and convention centre will integrate with other elements of the Cultural Precinct and the broader town centre, the City asked community members to provide feedback on what's important to them in this space and what the Cultural Precinct means to them. A survey was conducted between 15 July and 6 August and just under 250 responses were received - thanks to everyone who took the time to participate.

This feedback is now being analysed by Ink Strategy, an independent consulting firm who have worked on similar strategies in high profile cultural precincts and public spaces such as Perth, Chinatown Broome, Rottnest Island Gateway and Yagan Square.

The outcomes of this consultation initiative will be posted on this site.

Discussions: All (12) Open (12)
  • What's in it for me?

    by Meredith, 3 months ago
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    Are you keen to enjoy a more active nightlife? Are you interested in pursuing a career in the creative industries? Perhaps you are a local business operator hoping to attract more people into the town centre more often? Perhaps you don't feel this project offers you anything - but what about your children, grand-children, friends and neighbours?

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  • Let's discuss CBD activation - how will this development make a difference?

    by Meredith, 3 months ago
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    Activation of our town centres is a Council priority.  We're keen to see more people in the town centre - socialising , supporting local cafes, bars and restaurants and creating an energetic vibe. 

    What sort of programs, events and functions would bring you into the town centre more often?  

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  • What do event organisers, dance and local theatre groups say about the Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre?

    by Meredith, 3 months ago
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    Imagine being able to host CinefestOZ in a first-class facility here in Busselton? Imagine being able to run our end-of-year dance productions and large gala events in the City of Busselton rather than in Bunbury? Imagine having a venue that can support the opera, the orchestra and the ballet?  How important are these opportunities for a growing City like ours?  

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  • We're a city but are we mature enough to support a venue like this?

    by Meredith, 3 months ago
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    We're one of the fastest growing regional centres in Western Australia and future population predictions see this growth continuing at a rapid rate.

    Council is investing over $25 million in sporting and recreational facilities over the next 20 years but what are we doing for art, culture and the creative industries?

    Along with the airport expansion project and the foreshore redevelopment Council considers the new performing arts and convention centre as an important pillar project that will expand our industry base and broaden our social and cultural experiences. But what do you think?  Are we mature enough to support a Performing Arts and Convention Centre?

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  • Future expansion and Car parking

    by JGBUSSELL , 3 months ago
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    Why were the ratepayers denied a say in the location of BEACH and how will this facility cater for future expansion when we outgrow it? Residents live directly behind?? 

    The main problem is car parking and that’s because there isn’t any. Temporary parking on signal park is irrelevant and not a long term fix to the problem. In Summer the overflow parking there is already full. It’s pretty disgraceful seeing our beautiful public parks being destroyed and parked on. We lost Jetty parking with the new brewery and now we will lose more on the hotel site. All those patrons will need to park somewhere too!
    Let’s go back to the drawing board and find a more suitable site that can accommodate 200 bays out the front of the building. 
    Saying there are 2000 bays within 500 metres is ludicrous. Are they all day parking? No they’re not. Some are for only 15 mins and I’m sure everyone will feel their car is safe parking it down some side street or shopping car park.. 
    Next time you go to work, instead of parking out the back or the block next door, park at Coles and walk over the Vasse River to the City office building. If it’s still there or hasn’t been broken in to then consider yourself lucky. 

    It’s time the Councillors and City staff listened to the community on this issue, including your former mayor, Councillors and our member for Vasse Libby Mettam and hold off on the project for now.

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  • I'm not against a convention space but I feel the main purpose of this building has been hijacked.

    by Martello, 3 months ago
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    I would like to see the convention aspect of the centre reduced to be a secondary function, and let the main purpose of this building be to showcase theatre, art and performance. In the prospectus the retractable seating is justified in order to allow flexibility of the main auditorium to create a 400p space for conventions. However a 400p function space is already available on the first floor.  I feel this building is trying to be all things to all people, creating a complex and expensive building. For example retractable seating is costly and complicated (is it even comfortable?) and if there is a saving to be made this is one area that should be reconsidered. The building has enough other convention areas to not need the main auditorium as well. 

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  • Venue Technical Specifications

    by Mflower0 , 3 months ago
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    Hello venue architects,

     I am interested in some of the technical features of the building. The budget for technical equipment ($795 000) seems quite low, considering thats performing arts in the primary purpose of the venue. 

    I don't expect answers to these questions, It's just some considerations that will make future venue technicians lives easier. 

    Lighting 

    - Will the lighting fixtures be all LED or a mixture of generics and LED's
    - Will the lighting rig be accessible by a catwalk and will their be an elevated work platform budgeted for for accessing lights over the stage. 
    - Will a professional lighting console be budgeted for. (MA 2, Hog 4, ETC?)
    - Will their be provision for two follow spots with suitable locations to position them. 
    - Will their be budget for lighting fixtures to be used on stage?
    - Will their be budget for intelligent /moving lights?
    - Will their be DMX's patching on stage for light fixtures?
    - Will there budget for DMX hazers?
    - Will their be lighting booms (on wheels) for side lighting fixtures on stage?

    Audio
    - What audio system will be used in the auditorium? Will it be a line array?
    - Is their provision for delay speakers throughout the auditorium?
    - Is their provision for infill speakers along the front edge of stage?
    - Is their provision for monitor speakers for performers on stage?
    - Will their be a dedicated Amplifier room?
    - Will their be a Dante audio network throughout the venue, linking Mixers, I/O and speakers.
    - Will the venue have a suitable stock of microphones, stands and DI Boxes to mic up large ensembles / bands?
    - Will a large format front of house digital audio console be budgeted for. (Avid S6L, A&H D Live, etc)
    - Will a Digital monitor audio console be budgeted for? 
    - Has a dedicated audio computer (Mac) been budgeted for, for playback of audio cues or recording from the front of house mixing console? (Software such as Qlab or Ableton)
    - Will their be provision for a digitally controlled audio matrix system to control audio in foyers/ function rooms as well as green rooms / dressing rooms?
    - Will their be dedicated stage over mics to feed the show relay audio?
    - Will the front of house audio console be outside of the control room so that the operator can hear the room?
    - Will their be appropriate patch points for both Audio and Lighting consoles to be set up in the middle of the raked stalls seating, particularly for live music / musical theatre performances when the audio technician needs to accurately mix microphones on stage? 

    AV
    - Will their be provision for an LED Screen / Cyclorama.
    - Will their be a large projector, suitable for filling the entire Cyclorama
    - Has a vision switcher been budgeted for?
    - Has a dedicated vision computer been budgeted for?

    Venue 
    - Has a comms / wireless comms system been budgeted for? ( e.g Riedel)
    - Will their be a fly rail system above the stage for scenery, to hang lighting fixtures or speakers?

    - Will a hearing assist loop be installed?
    - Will their be show relay tv monitors in foyers, rehearsal rooms, green rooms, function spaces, etc?
    - Will their be a dedicated Stage Managers desk backstage for someone to call a theatre show?
    - Will their be a tarkett to cover the stage for dance performances?
    - Will their be full hight loading dock doors and backstage areas to allow tall set pieces to be moved on an off stage?
    - Will their be suitable (removable) stage 'legs' hung from a fly rail system?
    - Will their be suitable technical storage areas for lights, cables, rigging equipment, speakers, projectors, monitor audio consoles, lecterns, etc?
    - Will the backstage storage areas be temperature / humidity controlled for storage or instruments such as strings and percussions?
    - Will the venue have a grand piano?
    - Will their be sufficient room for large set pieces to be moved from one side stage to the other behind the cyclorama? 
    - Will the back wall of the auditorium be acoustically treated?

    I hope these items may be taken into consideration when designing the technical systems for the venue. 

    They can often be the difference between a good venue and a great venue!

    I look forward to the completion of a well designed performing arts venue which will stand the test of time. 






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  • Location

    by DaveH, 3 months ago
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    I have always held the belief that this is the wrong location, right from the start when it was suggested that the CALM building site be negotiated – many years ago.  I have said so on many occasions.  Because:

    1. The size of the area is far too small, which is why the police/courthouse development rebuilt on another site (among other reasons, presumably).
    2. The proposed style of the entertainment centre is way out of keeping with the heritage looking buildings in the vicinity.  It will stick out like a ‘sore thumb’ and spoil the ambiance of the area entirely.
    3. This idea that this is a cultural ‘hub’ is quite a new invention and I really don’t see the need to have such a huge overwhelming building placed next to the current heritage-style buildings in the area.  I recall the fight to keep the buildings from demolition that are currently used by the Art Society and the Acting Up group.  Think back decision makers – why was this done?  To keep the old buildings restored to their original design and used for community purposes and to enhance the area.  Placing the proposed entertainment centre building of the current design right in the middle of these group of beautiful buildings will destroy that ‘vibe’ for ever.
    4. Parking – again the lack of available parking in the area is obvious.  To build additional parking in the area is almost criminal.  I am shocked with the current thoughts that the removal of the tennis courts is resulting in parking area.  I stand corrected if this is not the plan for the tennis court area but what a waste of prime land!

    I have no idea why the ‘must build everything near the beach’ mentality persists in of this town!  An entertainment centre is predominantly an inside activity area – views of the ocean are not necessary.

    This facility is a ‘want’ of the community and I agree with that entirely but NOT in that location.  There are better locations close to the CBD.  One suggestion I made many surveys ago was the use of the land opposite Churchill Park that was an accommodation premises (Brown/Duchess Street corner).  Another was the use of the land along Causeway Road – plenty of room for scope, parking, and would be a great entrance to our town.  Unfortunately, there is a road and a roundabout there now – not particularly the best look for entrance to a town!  Another possibility is the vacant land opposite the Old Butter Factory and the private land across Brown Street which is currently vacant as well.  Close to the CBD, plenty of space for expansion and the ‘dreaded’ parking issue.

    Choosing a more suitable location to start off at a lesser cost to the community, with room to grow and expand with arising needs of the community is a far better option that what is proposed at this current time.  Even if the project is put on hold at this time, it will give the opportunity to look for a more suitable site with more potential than the current Queen Street location.

    Because this shows my username I wish this comment to be under my own name of Rhonda Stubbs
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  • Cost

    by DaveH, 3 months ago
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    I do agree we, the citizens of the City of Busselton, need an entertainment centre eventually but the scope of the current design, size and cost far outweigh the ‘need’.  Especially at this time when businesses, families and visitors to the area are restricted on their available dollars and times are pretty tough for a lot of people, not only in this area but for the whole of the country (or even the world).  A comment that a councillor made about rates not being relevant in this proposal is ludicrous, to say the least.  Rates are a heavy burden on all – families, businesses, aged persons, visitors and the like.  This is not the time to spend such money as indicated on a ‘want’ and an item that we can all live without until times dictate that is the prudent way to go.

    Because this shows my username I wish this comment to be under my own name of Rhonda Stubbs


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  • Use and (supposed) financial benefits to the community

    by DaveH, 3 months ago
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    It was been widely said that the schools in the area need such a building for their purposes such as presentation nights, school concerts, etc.  Has the Education Department offered to fund a share of this cost to provide for their students?  I think not.

    Visitors and tourism – it has also been said that this centre will attract tourists to town.  I strongly dispute this assumption.  Why would anyone want to drive three hours, more or less, to see a show that they can most likely see either in their own area or in the metropolitan area.  I seriously can’t see entertainment acts coming to Busselton’s centre that aren’t already being shown in other localities of the state.  Locals yes, that would be great, but tourists?  I don’t believe this would be a tourist attraction of any great scale.  This building is not unique - it would not be the only entertainment building in the state or even the south of the state.  What could offer would most likely be available anywhere else in the state and at this current time to most tourists, road travel is the only option to visit the area.

    An exception to this is of course CinefestOz and to be honest this event is already being diluted with parts of the event being held in Bunbury, Margaret River, Augusta and now I believe Albany?  For CinefestOz we already have a fully functioning movie theatre in Busselton, privately owner and operated without direct cost to the community.  As a private enterprise and business in this, and been so for a long time, this could seriously have severe consequences their livelihood.

    What Busselton needs to attract tourists is something unique and an entertainment centre is not unique.

    Because this shows my username I wish this comment to be under my own name of Rhonda Stubbs


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