Town Hall busy but community groups concerned about bookingsBENDIGO Town Hall is hopping with events, attendances and revenue all well up in the past year.
There are concerns, however, that the change in management has made the city’s most prestigious venue less-accessible to community groups.
Bendigo Chamber Choir, which presents its 30th anniversary concert at Sacred Heart Cathedral this Sunday, has been frustrated in its attempts to secure a booking at the town hall for its Christmas concert.
Choir members say the hall is a “natural fit” for the choir but they have had “nothing but trouble” confirming bookings.
Funded by the City of Greater Bendigo, the choir struggles to make ends meet, as it costs about $4000 to put on a concert.
Although it is delighted to be singing its anniversary concert in the cathedral, the acoustics and size of the town hall make that venue its first choice.
At a rehearsal this week for its anniversary concert, choir conductor Michael Bottomley confirmed the group would appreciate a rethink from the City of Greater Bendigo about its status in relation to the town hall.
“If there was the opportunity for an in-residence status for the choir, that would be very good,” Mr Bottomley said. Management of the town hall was transferred to The Capital at the end of the 2009 financial year.
Capital CEO David Lloyd said this week that community groups were welcome but it was also important that the “real costs” of running the venue were met.
“For many years the town hall has been significantly under-used, and it was getting to the point where it needed some tlc,” Mr Lloyd said.
“A lot more people are now accessing the town hall than ever before and that comes with a cost.”
In the 2008-9 financial year, prior to The Capital taking over management responsibilities, 12,100 people attended 63 events, resulting in $18,500 revenue for council.
Last financial year, 22,000 people attended 168 events, with $85,500 going into council coffers as a result.
Mr Lloyd said the idea of Bendigo Chamber Choir having in-residence status should be given consideration.
“I can’t discount anything, and I’d like to hear their direct concerns.
“There’s certainly a broader discussion to have with us about community and cultural development.”
Mr Lloyd said council had been discussing “quarantining” an amount to fund the long-term organisations, such as the choir and the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra.
“These are important organisations that deserve support,” Mr Lloyd said.