Mornington Peninsula Shire is starting a feasibility study after identifying three possible sites for a “world class” regional arts and conference centre.
Council-owned properties at Hastings, Mornington and Rosebud have been recommended by consultants as the best of 23 possible sites for the cultural arts centre.
The cost has been estimated at $110 million to $150m with possibly an extra $60m for a “future workplace” if Mornington is chosen as the location.
The financial projections come with a warning that construction costs are likely to blow out by 3-4 per cent a year.
The shire’s 2021/22 budget included $350,000 for an “arts and culture plan” of which $37,000 has been spent and the feasibility study is likely to cost $250,000.
A further $492,000 is in the 2022/23 budget for a business case and site assessment.
The 1000-seat performing arts centre would be supported by a 450-seat conference and function centre “with an ability to compliment organic growth of the area into a cultural precinct”.
The chosen sites are:
The council’s offices, library and car park in Queen Street, Mornington and the Peninsula Community Theatre, corner Nepean Highway and Wilsons Road.
The council’s offices in Hastings, King Street car parks and the Fred Smith Reserve on the foreshore.
Land in Wannaeue Place, Rosebud and on the foreshore.
The report by consultants William Ross Architects said the “optimum, strategic location” for a regional arts centre was “in the middle of the [Port Phillip side of the] shire” because of population density and ease of access.
The report cautioned that it was “not easy to entice people to buy live theatre events tickets” and that “performing arts centres are loss-making community facilities”.
It said ticket revenues could contribute “as little as 25-30 per cent” to the operating costs of performing arts centres and larger centres, like that envisaged by the shire, usually needed annual operating subsidies of $500,000 — $1.2 million.
While stating that the regional arts and conference centre proposed by the shire was “an exciting and important project”, the report said it was “vital” for a location to be able to “attract the greatest number of attendees” and users.
It said a feasibility study was the next “essential” step towards a performing arts centre for the peninsula.
The study should include a “market needs analysis” (community and visitor audience assessment) and a business case to identify “the substantial annual operating subsidy” that council would have to pay to make it successful.
“This business case would provide a robust basis on which to present the project to the community and seek major funding grants,” the report stated.
Frankston Arts Centre is seen as competing for business with Mornington audiences, but not with those likely to attend performances at Rosebud or Hastings.
An arts centre at Rosebud or Hastings is also seen as having “large potential” community benefits but providing “little change” for Mornington.
The anticipated council-provided operating subsidy is seen as “reasonable” for Mornington and Rosebud but “high” at Hastings “due to need to develop audience participation”.