Letter to the editor: world-class Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre needed for South West

Busselton Dunsborough Times
The proposed Busselton Perfoming Arts Centre for the end of Queen Street.
Camera IconThe proposed Busselton Perfoming Arts Centre for the end of Queen Street.

There will always be people who argue against development. Quite often it is a knee-jerk reaction, based on limited understanding.

There was huge negativity towards spending the massive amount of money it took to rebuild the Busselton Jetty.

What a positive that has been!

Then there was the foreshore.

Now that took a great deal of foresight to see the potential, but it certainly attracted many naysayers along the way.

The airport likewise. Busselton went from a town to a city and now has an airport that can service interstate airlines.

The Busselton pool was designed to be a 50m pool until a number of ratepayers protested at the cost — now for the past 20 years it hasn’t been big enough for our population’s demand.

Now is the time to develop a performing arts centre and make it the right size for function, with the best acoustics possible to attract performers from all over the world as well as service our five high schools with their active drama departments, our large very successful dance schools in both Busselton and Dunsborough, and many other community groups. The present design has been carefully researched, taking the best ideas from other centres and improving on areas where they fell down. To redesign it for a lesser budget would see so many of those fantastic properties compromised.

Let’s do it well. If we delay and change, it will require a whole new set of parameters to be dealt with, which is very expensive.

As with the jetty, we need leadership to decide this issue. Busselton is growing in strength with the development of the majestic and unique foreshore, the airport and now the third major pillar to pull it all together — the performing arts centre.

The marketing consultants who looked at every possible location for this centre knew what they were doing when they recommended that it be put in the heart of the cultural centre of Busselton — that is, the Art Geo Centre, where it can connect directly with the thriving Weld Theatre as well as the acting school.

There will soon be another quality hotel within a short walking distance of the centre to add to the ones we already have. The consultants looked carefully at the parking needs. There are 2800 parking bays within 500m of the site. A very large proportion of these are empty at night.

My love of ballet led me to offer Happs Winery’s grounds for an outdoor performance by the Dunsborough School of Ballet.

What a difference it makes to the performance when held in an amphitheatre where you can look down on the stage to enjoy the dancers’ feet and the amazing choreography.

From a flat floor, you can only see a bit of the body, and the formations are not able to be appreciated. Last Christmas, we carried our grand piano to the outside stage for a piano quintet concert. We could have sold the tickets many times over, and people are still talking about it.

Those who are not involved with performing arts may not understand just how strong it is in this community, and it will get a lot stronger if we have better facilities.

Did you know the ground-floor seating of the proposed centre can be folded back to make it possible for large pop concerts where people want to dance? Or it could be used for ballroom dancing conventions. National choral conventions would love to come here. Then you, the lucky people of Busselton, can hear the best choirs in Australia right here.

Happs sponsors the WA Symphony Orchestra.

I am aware of its great education programs and they would love to come here.

Who would deny our kids that opportunity?

WASO also has a very good idea to give young people the opportunity to attend its concerts.

Tickets are available for under- 30s for $30. We go to five or six concerts a year and the concert hall is always full, whether it is Tim Minchin or Lang Lang as the main attraction.

We could do the same here, with considerable reductions for, let’s say, over-70s and under-30s.

Both the Orana and the performing arts centre would be well used. And all those restaurants along the main streets and on the foreshore will be buzzing! The survey is at yoursay.busselton.wa.gov.au/pac.

It closes on August 9 at 5pm.

Roslyn Happ, Busselton

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