27 November 2023

Civic Centre expansion or 5000 seat entertainment venue? You decide!

| Jarryd Rowley
Join the conversation
Members of council looking at new entertainment facility plans.

Members of Wagga City Council invite Wagga residents to weigh in on the possibility of a future entertainment venue being built at the Civic Centre. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

Residents of Wagga have an opportunity to have their say on two potential entertainment projects planned for the heart of the city.

The Cultural Precinct Engagement survey will allow participants to express which project they believe should be prioritised by the Wagga Wagga City Council (WWCC).

One project would deliver a 5000-person capacity entertainment centre that incorporates a First Nations cultural centre located on the Murrumbidgee River, with the other being an expansion of the existing Civic Theatre, with the addition of two new performance spaces. One space would be a 328-seat auditorium for cocktail-style events while the second would be a 119-seat space for more intimate performances.

READ ALSO ‘Griffith won’t exist without irrigation’: Thousands attend anti-water buyback rallies across Riverina

Following the 28-day submission period, WWCC will present the survey results to the State and Federal Governments in an attempt to secure funding for either project.

Currently, the riverside entertainment centre is estimated to cost $102.5 million while the Civic Theatre expansion is projected to cost $55.6 million.

WWCC General Manager Peter Thompson said although the approximate costs had been announced, due to the long-term planning and construction process, the costs could grow.

“We would be looking for government funding, particularly Commonwealth Government funding but it would be a tripartite approach to funding that once we actually had a clearer idea of what the capability was like,” Mr Thompson said.

“At the moment, it [Cultural Precinct Engagement survey] is more about getting a clearer understanding of the community.

“What do they think we should treat as their priority? What do they want us to lobby for?

“Is it the entertainment, conference centre triad facility, which isn’t represented yet in southern NSW or is it an expansion to the Civic Theatre?”

In June 2023 council obtained NSW Government funding to develop a business case for a major entertainment and conference centre incorporating a First Nations cultural centre within the Riverside Stage 3 precinct.

The current spending on the business case is sitting at around $490,000.

Mr Thompson was adamant that in the event that neither project was able to secure the funding needed, council would still push to have the First Nations cultural centre.

“The First Nations centre will probably be built regardless; we have built a strong relationship with Wagga’s First Nations people. Having that place of recognition locally where people can experience First Nations culture is important.

“The space will be built near and around the already existing CSU Playhouse and we will seek funding for that space regardless of whether either of the two projects get built.”

First Nations elder Uncle James Ingram said a central First Nations information hub was long overdue.

“We’ve worked very hard with the city council through our Reconciliation Action Plan, it’s always been slated that we will do something like this in conjunction with the city council,” he said.

“We believe that the centre will offer a service to communities of southern NSW. Adding information about my people can only lead to better education for everybody.”

WWCC Mayor Dallas Tout said there would be multiple pop-ups at several locations around the city including the Wagga City Library and the Civic Centre for people wanting to understand more about the two projects.

“This is a very, very huge effort that’s happening and we want to get to that consultation and show the State and Federal Governments that we are lobbying, that we’ve gotten a lot of responses and not disappointingly small amounts.

READ ALSO Inland Rail may not bypass Wagga but ‘refinements’ are being made

“We need to pick our targets and pick a project out, so we can focus entirely on that. Once that has been decided we’ll start the advocacy immediately.”

Cr Tout said council had everything in place to begin lobbying for funding as soon as the project had been selected.

“In reference to the projects, it is a medium to long-term game,” he said.

“There will be a lot of planning, it’s not going to happen overnight, and we won’t see construction start next year but it will be something that council will continue to advocate for until it is finished.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Raymond Kingwill7:38 pm 19 Dec 23

I am impressed with the proposals which will offer a lot to the city. However neither solves the problem which is the civic theatre is too small. Wagga Wagga needs a space similar to the existing theatre but with a capacity of about 1200 people. It should be similar to the theatre in Chatswood. City eisteddfod should be able o be held in such a building. The Riverina dance festival is held in Albury because the existing civic theatre in WW is way too small

it will be a massive expensive white elephant and more rates increases. Its hard enough to fill the existing Civic Centre

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.