I am enjoying reading about potential candidates and non-candidates in your paper as we draw closer to the Council elections in December. I was particularly interested in potential Councillor, Mayor or Deputy Mayor Kim Turner’s mention last week of the Commercial Hotel and the Liberty Theatre and the state of Comur St.
Every week if not day, my wife and I are asked, “what’s happening with the Liberty Theatre”, so I thought that we should clear the air.
The trials and tribulations of the past with Council are well behind us and since deciding around 2016 to not continue with our plans to restore the theatre that included passing ownership back to the community, we have moved to caretaker mode and are still there.
At some point, there will be a new owner and our preference is to sell to a community-focused buyer rather than a strictly commercial one. This preference is also reflected in the price.
Some time back Councillors voted to have community engagement and an ensuing Councillor workshop to look at matters Liberty Theatre. That resolution has not been actioned.
We found it disappointing that even though a community group, “Friends of the Liberty”, have done lots of work on how to purchase the theatre that support from Council seems lacking. I am told that a presentation to Council that came with a deal at nil cost to ratepayers had less than majority support so it seems that the Liberty Theatre is not on any Council agenda.
So my wife and I will wait for either the community to convince a majority of the new Councillors that a working 1939 700 seat Art Deco theatre is something that requires support and that indeed accepting support by way of community donations and grants at both State and Federal Governments to buy and restore the theatre is preferable to us selling to the market to become whatever.
No one knows what the future holds but I have decided that from now on when asked, ” what’s is happening to the Liberty Theatre”, my response will be, “Council is buying it, they just don’t know it yet”.
The title of the Liberty can be Council and the running can be a community board and all Council has to do is agree and then stay out of the way.
Seems too simple?
On a positive note the Friends of the Liberty have become
an Incorporated Association and are planning a public meeting in the theatre when Covid restrictions allow.
Yours sincerely Touie Smith snr