Arts centre budget blow-out

Artist's impression of the view from level one of the Joondalup Performing Arts and Cultural Facility into main entry foyer
Artist's impression of the view from level one of the Joondalup Performing Arts and Cultural Facility into main entry foyer

Before the development of a conceptual design, it was estimated the facility would cost $51 million based on the preferred ‘art box’ design that was endorsed by the council in March 2013.

However, the ARM Architecture design is estimated to cost $90.7 million.

At last Tuesday’s Joondalup council meeting, Cr Brian Corr asked what funding would be available for the project.

Joondalup chief executive Garry Hunt said the project was still ‘very much in the concept stage’.

‘Business plans and detailed designs need to be completed first, then we will be in a position to decide what other funding might be appropriate,’ he said.

He said there was about $9.8 million in the City’s performing arts centre reserve fund and there were about 10 land holdings being considered for potential sale.

Cr Corr referred to the council document that stated the Federal Government had indicated it was not in a position to provide capital funding for the project.

‘I can’t support this project anymore until we are a little bit more sure of the funding,’ he said.

‘We have to sell a large number of plots of land and we’ll still be about $50 million, $40 million, $60 million short. Borrowing that kind of money; in my opinion, we can’t do it.

‘We need to stop at this point and come back to it when the situation is better. Where there are grants available or scale it back where it becomes manageable financially.

‘Everyone  wants a performing arts centre in the centre of Joondalup but $93 million when we can’t get the money ” and my firm belief is we cannot get that kind of money ” we really should not be spending lots of money knowing  we  can’t achieve it. I think  that’s absolutely silly.’

Cr Kerry Hollywood, who is also chairwoman of the centre’s steering committee, was disappointed with Cr Corr’s comments.

‘Cr Corr doesn’t agree with anything going ahead,’ she said.

‘He didn’t vote for the Ocean Reef Marina and now he’s not going to vote for this exciting project.’

Cr Mike Norman said the design needed to get to a point where it could be accurately costed before the City could investigate potential funding sources.

‘It’s hard to go looking for potential sources for funding if we don’t have a very good idea of what this building is going to cost,’ he said.

Mayor Troy Pickard agreed.

‘We are yet to receive the business case, which will present detailed information about the operations, cost and how it will be funded,’ he said. 

‘None of those decisions have been made so it’s very premature for speculation about where borrowings might occur and might not occur.’

‘Having said that, I’m not surprised Cr Corr has spoken in such a negative way about the project. Similar comments were expressed about another visionary project in the City of Joondalup ” the Ocean Reef Marina.’

Mr Pickard said the community supported the concept of a performing arts facility and analysis indicated demand for a facility in the north-west corridor.

‘In due course, the CEO will present a report to council, which is an investment decision where we receive the full facts,’ he said.

‘At the moment we don’t have the full facts before us to make an investment decision. And it is at that point ” when all the information is before us, including the costings and how the City is proposed to structure the project finically ” that we can make an informed decision and accurately express the view as to whether or not an individual believes it’s a project worthy of investment by the City.’

The council document stated the City had explored opportunities for funding contributions from the State and Federal government and philanthropists.