14 June 2024

New Civic Theatre plans receive backing from Wagga Council and the community

| Jarryd Rowley
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The masterplan proposes two new venues alongside the existing auditorium, to allow spaces for shows’ needs. Photo: Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre.

Wagga Wagga City Council (WWCC) will begin seeking funding for the Civic Theatre masterplan after receiving backing from the local community.

Ahead of council’s endorsement of the masterplan, 242 members of the Wagga community made submissions as part of the plan’s public exhibition period.

The plans drew overwhelmingly positive results, with 231 submissions categorised as supportive of the proposed plan, with only 11 opposed.

The draft masterplan would see the existing theatre capacity expand from 491 seats to nearly 1500 across three auditoriums.

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Venue one, the current space, would maintain the original 491-seat auditorium while the second and third spaces would focus on live music and intimate events.

Venue two would have enough space for 774 people standing, 328 people seated for a performance, or 270 people seated for a gala-type event.

The third and smallest venue would be for more intimate gigs and events with enough room for 119 people seated or 200 people standing.

Council’s community director Janice Summerhayes said it was exciting to see five years of planning finally pass through council, allowing WWCC to seek funding for the project.

“It’s a really great credit to our community that have gotten involved and actually put forward their ideas from the beginning about how they would like to see a performing arts centre expand,” she said.

“It’s been a five-year journey; it just started with a cultural plan back in 2020 and now, with the public exhibition period recently we’ve heard that community.

“A masterplan does give a strategic direction; it’s able to give us something that we can use now to show to the government and demonstrate that this is a project worth funding.”

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Ms Summerhayes highlighted the recent demand for more venues in the Civic Precinct, citing the huge number of visitors attending the Wagga Wagga Comedy Fest in recent weeks.

“The response to the Comedy Fest was overwhelmingly positive, but one of the most frequent responses we got through our consultation was for more flexibility in our spaces,” she said.

“We need smaller and larger spaces to accommodate the different genres of offerings that include cabarets, comedy festivals, recitals or whatever the community might demand.

“We’re a growing city with very diverse cohorts of interests. So a performing arts centre needs to be flexible around that programming.”

Ms Summerhayes said the cost for the Civic Theatre Masterplan to become a reality would be about $58 million.

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