The big promise: What happened to our performing arts centre?
PLANS to build an Ipswich Performing Arts Centre are ramping up but the big stumbling block to the project remains funding from the state and federal governments.
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale went to the last mayoral election with a $100 million performing arts centre the centrepiece of his campaign.
Ipswich City Council has committed $10 million towards the project and a grant of up to $10 million may be available from the federal government's new $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund from 2015-16.
A new performing arts centre was one of the 17 catalytic projects identified in the Ipswich Regional Centre Strategy in 2008.
Cr Charlie Pisasale, who chairs council's community and cultural services committee, showed the QT the plans for the centre.
The project was adopted by council in May, 2011 and includes a 1500-seat main auditorium with a 400 to 600 seat secondary auditorium. A function facility to seat 500 is part of the project which will include ancillary areas for conferences, a kitchen, recording studio and rehearsal spaces.
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The space would be used for the performing arts, conferences, exhibitions and functions.
Cr Pisasale said the increased audience capacity of a new performing arts centre would attract larger productions and cater for audiences drawn from the region. He said Ipswich was losing business to Brisbane.
"A performing arts centre like this takes us to another level. We deserve it," he said.
"The shows do a circuit, but we are limited in what we can bring to the city.
"If we have a performing centre like this we will have a seating capacity of up to 1500 and will attract a far higher standard of show.
"At the civic centre we can cram in just over 800 people.
"We recognised several years ago that we are losing so much business.
"The high schools have their break ups and we can't accommodate them, so they are going to Brisbane for their formal dinners…and it has been happening for years.
"We need a decent function centre where we can seat 500 people.
"At the civic centre we can squeeze 200 in, so we have to keep saying, 'Sorry, we can't help you'."
A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the national stronger regions fund would "support investment in priority infrastructure that creates economic development opportunities across Australia's regions".
"Funding will help communities, particularly those with poor socioeconomic circumstances and higher than average unemployment, by improving local facilities, creating local jobs and building needed infrastructure," the spokesperson said.
"Organisations, including councils and community groups, will be able to apply for grants between $20,000 and $10 million, to meet up to half the cost of community building projects."
Mayor Paul Pisasale said the council "might be able to get the project down to $50 million".
"But $ 10 million in funding is not enough.
"Ipswich is one of the fastest growing areas in the nation and the federal government has an obligation to put the infrastructure in, otherwise the people of Ipswich are going to miss out.
"We are not going to be building a second rate project. We are only going to accept world class facilities for Ipswich now. No more second best."
The state government is yet to make any funding commitment, but Ipswich MP Ian Berry said he was "more than willing to talk to council and promote this project".
"Ipswich is going to be the hub for performing arts," he said.
The QT Facebook page saw plenty of support for the project as a much needed one.
Julie-Anne Pashley said the recent Project Puccini show "proved that".
"The (civic centre) stage was apparently too small to accommodate the chorus therefore they did not get an opportunity like other choruses in other regions who performed. We need a proper performing arts complex, including an orchestra pit, so the community can enjoy more big productions like Project Puccini."
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