Plans for a new arts and community centre in Narooma are live again with the town’s creators keen to see the idea progress.
“Narooma needs it” was the general consensus at a recent community meeting. The Narooma School of Arts is leading the way, presenting preliminary designs and plans for land next to the historic Kinema.
>Spokesperson Laurelle Pacey says the volunteer School of Arts committee was delighted that more than 60 people attended with most expressing the strong view that the committee should proceed.
Plans for the new centre were developed almost 10 years ago but shelved in more recent times while the School of Arts focussed on the restoration of the Kinema building and enhancing it as a venue for live performances.
The vision is to build a space that includes three studio/workshops/meeting rooms and a large exhibition gallery with highway frontage – taking over what is now the SoART Gallery.
“These plans were developed between the School of Arts, many artists including members of Montague Arts & Craft Society, and the selected architect, with some input from Council,” Ms Pacey explains.
Some at the meeting expressed concern with the slope of the site and parking, however the School of Arts committee is confident those issues can be addressed.
The development site takes in SoART Gallery and the red cottage studios at the top of town. It’s land that is owned and managed by the people of Narooma through the School of Arts. That community ownership is seen as one less obstacle to overcome in this ambitious plan and is a source of pride and strength for those involved.
“The site is not owned by Council or the NSW Government; land here has been owned by the Narooma community for over 120 years.” Ms Pacey says.
“The School of Arts has spent over $30,000 on plans to date, and members and many artists have spent about 2,000 hours researching and developing the plans.
“Other value-in-kind contributions have been made, so all up, our community including the monetary value of those VIK hours, has already invested over $100,000 in this project.”
With the Kinema project completed, the committee was keen to reconnect with the wider community before moving ahead with the arts centre proposal and cementing the site as an arts hub for Narooma.
“We needed to know it would be used,” Ms Pacy says.
“So we invited to the meeting various artists who might hold workshops or classes, groups we thought might be interested in using such a facility, as well as other community groups who might be interested in being across these plans.”
Those in the room were in agreement that Narooma was in need of an arts/community space and admired the drive of the School of Arts, however it was clear that more input and feedback on the design and plans for the building was needed.
“The combined project is about enhancing the site for the Arts in its broadest sense,” Ms Pacey says.
“We will meet in the New Year to consider how to best move the plans forward, including dealing with some concerns raised at that meeting.”
Funding to build the new centre is still to be secured, when the plans were first developed the estimated cost was around $3 million.
Disclaimer: Ian Campbell acted as an independent, volunteer facilitator for the community meeting at the request of the Narooma School of Arts.