12 October 2021

Council elections bring hope for Liberty Theatre owners in Yass

| Max O'Driscoll
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Theatre with neon lights

The vision for a revitalised Liberty Theatre. Image: Liberty Theatre.

It’s been 17 long years since Touie and Denise Smith purchased the Liberty Theatre in Yass.

Originally wanting to restore the theatre, in 2014, after consistent issues in the development process, the couple determined they would instead try to sell the theatre back to the community.

Seven years later and they are still looking for a community-minded buyer and they believe that Yass Valley Council should be more forthcoming in their support of the project.

With the Council set to usher in several personnel changes post the December election, Mr Smith Sr hopes the next Council will share in his vision for what the Liberty Theatre could be and what it could mean for the Yass community.

READ ALSO Yass community rallies to buy iconic Liberty Theatre

“With the five or six councillors that are leaving, I would like to think that the new councillors coming in would be open to having a conversation with the community about whether the community wants to own it or not.”

“I think all councils and Yass Valley Council in particular, should be open to having a discussion with the community in regards to their needs and wants.”

“They’ve already run a study for the youth and out of the study priority one was a picture theatre,” said Mr Smith.

One group which formed with the aim of purchasing the theatre is the Friends of the Liberty. Mr Smith believes the group has an appropriate plan in place to make the purchase but just need some assistance from Council to help get the project off the ground.

“Money is not the thing here. We are going to sell it to somebody. We will either sell it to the community at a discounted price or we will sell it to a developer at a bigger price.”

READ ALSO Canberra entrepreneur acquires Commercial Hotel in Yass

“This is about doing the right thing. The right thing is there’s a 1939 art deco building that sits in a prime location in the main street of Yass that can benefit Yass and the district on many levels and Council needs to get involved.”

The theatre is situated on a dormant section of the main street in Yass, however with the neighbouring Commercial Hotel sold and set to be restored and the big plans for the nearby “Crago Mill Precinct”, that looks likely to change.

According to the theatre owners, it makes the long-awaited restoration of the Liberty all the more vital.

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