Questions raised about use of Council venues

Former Gosford City Councillor and Liberal Party Candidate for the Seat of Peats in 1999 and 2003, Debra Wales, has raised questions about the use of community facilities in her submission to the Central Coast Council Public Inquiry.

Wales’ submission, made available through a Government Information Public Access (GIPA) application by a Woy Woy resident, hones in on the use of one Peninsula venue by a local arts and entertainment group as an example of Council under-utilising its facilities.

Council owns many community facilities across the local government area which are leased to organisations like local progress groups and also hired out to the public for a fee.

According to Debra Wales’ submission, “Council hire out the 400-seat auditorium for a meagre $20 per hour.”

Wales said tickets had been sold to shows at the venue for $55 per person.

“This would make them a very comfortable $22,000 per show,” the submission said.

“At 200 audience occupancy that would make $11,000 profit.

“I use the word ‘profit’ loosely as this group publicly advertise that they are a charity and only pay their producer and entertainers” she said.

Wales said the Ettalong Beach Council venue had been advertised as an ‘exclusive venue’ by one group.

She said this concern has been raised with Council’s Director of Community Services, Julie Vaughan, “on several occasions” but to date Council had “not clarified this inconsistency to the local Chamber of Commerce.

“I believe that Central Coast Council has failed to address this issue in relation to the use of their community properties and are missing an opportunity to place the venues to better use without the need for ‘middlemen’,” Wales said.

One of the well-known hirers, Naughty Noodle Fun Haus, was approached to respond.

“It’s wonderful that councils around the country are taking advantage of the underutilisation of assets, the world has changed and so have community’s needs,” Naughty Noodle Fun Haus said in a statement.

“Rather than a centre such as the local seniors sitting idle it’s available for anyone in the community to book, so it’s now buzzing with life, from dance classes on Thursdays to Christian scripture on Fridays and from Arts and Culture – cabaret to dance.

“It’s this type of community building across multiple organisations and groups which actively fosters strong, resilient, and connected communities, amplifies local voices, and enhances the capacity of communities and individuals to achieve their goals.

“It requires people, groups, and organisations to work together to build connections.

“Accessible pricing for our charity means we can not only pay artists and crew but can engage our social enterprise model, reinvest income into creating more activations, projects and infrastructure and focus on visible diversity building creative partnerships that work for creatives, community and businesses, allowing everyone in the community across multiple abilities, talents and experiences to contribute to make their community a better place to live in.”

Maisy Rae and Jackie Pearson

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