HORSHAM council has agreed to take over ownership and management of Wesley Performing Arts and Culture Centre once the facility is structurally safe.
The performing arts venue has been closed since December 2017 after a council building surveyor uncovered issues with its fire safety.
Horsham Rural City Council discussed the findings of the Horsham Performing Arts Future Services Demand Assessment at its May meeting on Monday night.
The council unanimously passed a motion to support the Wesley PACC committee in undertaking required structural and compliance works to enable the facility to be reopened.
The estimated cost of addressing the key fire safety issues to make the venue operational, along with other improvements, is approximately $560,000.
The compliance works will be funded by the proceeds of the sale of the Horsham Music Academy, which closed last year.
The council also agreed for the Wesley PACC committee to cease ownership and management of the facility, and transfer responsibilities to the council once the building was compliant with safety standards.
Furthermore, the council agreed that remaining proceeds from the sale of the Horsham Music Academy would be provided to the council and placed into a reserve for future expenditure on the facility.
Operating costs of the Wesley PACC under the council's management and ownership is estimated at $35,300 per annum.
In his report to the council, community wellbeing director Kevin O'Brien said the assessment identified a role for Wesley PACC in the community.
"It fills a gap in the existing provision of cultural facilities by providing a small intimate space that is very highly regarded by the community. It also provides the opportunity for broadening the arts and cultural program," he said.
"There are, however, financial implications regarding the preferred option put forward by the consultant James Buick and therefore it is proposed that an alternative option to option three in relation to Wesley PACC's future development is supported by council."
Financial consultant James Buick provided the council with three options, recommending option three. He told the council that an estimated $1.5 million would be needed to address safety issues, rectify the building, pay for new seating, and refurbish support spaces.
With proceeds from Wesley PACC committee's properties estimated at $600,000, Mr Buick said this would leave the net funds required at an estimated $900,000.
Councillor John Robinson said he wanted to raise some issues with the recommendations.
"There is another voice in the community that is concerned. Old buildings like this have structural issues and we've had costs put to us as much as $1.5 million, with nearly a $1 million financial risk to council," he said.
"The issue is how do we address the concerns of the ratepayers who are worried about copping something like that, and at the same time achieving a great outcome."
Cr Robinson said he conducted an investigations of his own which required him to take out two Freedom of Information requests. He also said he still didn't have all the information needed to come to a satisfactory conclusion.
"Council has provided the Wesley committee with a list of items that need to be addressed in order to achieve compliance. When pressed, a senior council officer told me that only the sprinkler system was needed. The rest are not must-dos," he said.
"If we can maximise the dollars in the trust account, and turn say $300,000 in to $600,000, that's to everyone's benefit."
See council's May meeting agenda below:
Councillor Pam Clarke said she supported the recommendations.
"This issue has been around for quite some time. It's been very disappointing for the committee and they have put an enormous amount of work into ensuring that this facility will go ahead and be used," she said.
"We can go back all the details of the past again and again; the reality is that whether there was a building occupancy given or not is irrelevant. We must remember that it is not our money and we should not be trying to dictate how this committee is spending its money."
Councillors passed the motion unanimously.
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