By this time next year Katoomba will be a place to enjoy theatre and dance productions in a quality venue near restaurants, cafes and bars.
In a boost for the town’s new cultural precinct which opens next month, councillors unanimously voted on October 16 to implement a Katoomba Theatre Company (KTC) plan to convert the old public library into a space capable of hosting performing arts productions.
The $745,000 conversion of the old library was due to begin by the end of this year, but will be delayed by six months for design modifications in consultation with the local performing arts community.
The new community hall and theatre will open in mid-to-late 2013.
No extra funding is available, so the project may not include specialist stage equipment and the number of seats in the theatre is yet to be determined.
About 80 people attended a public theatre forum at the Carrington Hotel on October 15, including KTC members, Blue Mountains Mayor Daniel Myles, cultural centre director Paul Brinkman and Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage.
KTC spokesperson Dr Larry Buttrose welcomed the decision, telling the Gazette a theatre in Katoomba would make the cultural precinct come alive and reinvigorate the nightlife of Katoomba.
“This decision is the culmination of a campaign that started in mid-2011, so we are absolutely delighted,” Dr Buttrose said.
“Katoomba is the biggest town in the Blue Mountains and it really needs this.
“There will be flow-on benefits too because every time a play is on there will be people meeting and dining out in town and it will also help to develop cultural tourism and encourage overnight stays.”
Dr Buttrose said KTC has a membership of 40 “and growing daily,” a committee of nine professional actors, sponsors Bendigo Bank and the Carrington Hotel and patrons Ita Buttrose and Bruce Beresford.
“We have one production — a play for children called Wolli and Po written by my wife Belle — that we are looking at doing in the theatre next year plus one production for adults,” he said.
“That’s just by KTC, but there will be other theatre companies that come out of the woodwork, touring shows, music, dance and community events.
“We are thankful for getting great support from all quarters.”
Ward 1 councillor and Katoomba Chamber of Commerce and Community member Robert Stock said a new design within the current project’s budget “looks like a good opportunity to make sure the hall is as functional as possible.”
Mayor Myles said a Blue Mountains ‘cultural council’ based on the successful sports council format will be launched at a reception in December.