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Survey reveals Wagga Civic Theatre upgrades favoured

The Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre's proposed expansion has come out on top as the most prefered project for Wagga's entertainment future

The Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre’s proposed expansion has come out on top as the most prefered project for Wagga’s entertainment future, however no date or funding has been set for the project yet. Photo: Supplied.

The results of the community poll asking Wagga residents for their opinions on the region’s entertainment hub future have been revealed.

The survey, which was launched in November last year, asked the community whether it preferred the proposal of two new small spaces expanding onto the existing Civic Theatre or the proposal of a 5000-seat venue. The results show that the Civic Theatre’s expansion pipped plans for a new arena.

Fifty-two per cent of voters voted in favour of the Civic Theatre plans, while 45 per cent wished to see a new arena. Only 3 per cent of the 1089 people who had their say voted against both projects.

Despite the Civic Theatre expansion receiving a majority vote, the business case for the arena – Riverside Stage 3 Business Case – was passed by Wagga Wagga City Council at the 13 May ordinary council meeting.

“Council supported the business case for Riverside Stage 3 and the developed concepts for two facilities, one being the major entertainment complex and the other one being a First Nations Cultural Centre,” executive manager of regional activation Fiona Hamilton said.

“The next stage is to seek funding for more detailed designs and the implementation of those projects.”

Ms Hamilton acknowledged the close results of the survey, noting that the theatre expansion and the Riverside project offered different opportunities for the community.

“The Civic Theatre master plan was out on exhibition for the past three to four weeks, ” Ms Hamilton said.

“That plan closed (on 10 May); it’s at a slightly different stage of the project lifecycle to decide stage three, and that’s why they’ve taken different paths.

“There’s no decision to go ahead with that project. It’s plenty of time because they’re going to rely heavily on both state and Commonwealth funding. So council’s endorsement last night was that staff should seek funding if they can.”

Despite community and council concerns about the running costs of both facilities, should they be built, Ms Hamilton explained that the main reason behind the venues isn’t to generate profit but to provide entertainment opportunities that Wagga has missed out on in the past.

“We miss out on a lot in Wagga because we don’t have facilities that cater to those sorts of events,” Ms Hamilton said.

“They’re going to other reasonably similar-sized cities instead, so it is an opportunity to bring those acts in.

“It’s not only about the profitability of the centre; you’ll find that council runs other centres that don’t make a profit because there’s community benefit in doing so.

“It’s the community benefit that we’re looking for. That will be in terms of jobs, it will be in terms of economic development, it will be flowing effects to our businesses, and that’s the sort of benefit that defines whether these projects go ahead.”

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