Creative Arts Gympie region members Keith Kuchenmeister and Lesa Campbell say they will be forced to hand $45,000 back to the State Government after it was forced to move to a month-by-month contract to manage its home on River Rd.
Creative Arts Gympie region members Keith Kuchenmeister and Lesa Campbell say they will be forced to hand $45,000 back to the State Government after it was forced to move to a month-by-month contract to manage its home on River Rd.

$45k on the line as Gympie arts group left in lurch

The Gympie arts community is calling on the council to give it some certainty as to the future of its River Rd base, saying it is at risk of having to give back more than $40,000 in funding without it.

Creative Arts Gympie Region has been calling the former Quartz Hub building on River Rd, opposite Memorial Park, home since the middle of last year after the two groups merged.

Secretary Lesa Campbell said the plan was to turn the building into an arts hub, home to everything from live music to performance.

But in November last year they were told by the council their management agreement was not being renewed and they had to leave in December.

The group has since been working at the site under a month-to-month lease, which was jeopardising $45,000 in funding awarded by Arts Queensland and the Gambling Community Benefit Fund.

The group was evicted by Gympie Regional Council last November, but has stayed on on a month by month basis.
The group was evicted by Gympie Regional Council last November, but has stayed on on a month by month basis.

"Since the lease was put on a month by month basis that doesn't give us any permanency to the building," Ms Campbell said.

"We've actually got money to be able to set someone up here, an arts worker and … facilitate this arts space to be run, and now we have the (latest) funding we really are ready to go; this is what's stalling us."

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She said the success Gympie Medical Transport had in setting up a new home showed there was a process; the CAGR would like to follow that "because we're at a point otherwise where we would need to hand this money back".

This also made it impossible to schedule events months in advance.

Council CEO Shane Gray said "due to a pending legal matter, council cannot offer a long-term lease at this time, which Creative Arts Gympie Region are aware of".

"A month to month lease has been arranged in the interim as, at this stage, council have no other option," Mr Gray said

CEO Shane Gray says a pending legal issue is the reason the CAGR has been offered a month-to-month agreement to use the building.
CEO Shane Gray says a pending legal issue is the reason the CAGR has been offered a month-to-month agreement to use the building.

The building itself is part of a wider block earmarked to become Gympie's new transit centre, but Ms Campbell said even if the centre were to happen in the future (and the newly elected council do not appear to support it) "it would be another year or two easily".

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"If we could establish ourselves as an organisation in that time, yes we would have spent the money on the fit-out but it would also have given us credibility to move into a larger space or to be approached to get corporate sponsorship," she said.

Ms Campbell said the need for an independent arts group supported by the council was highlighted within the council's own arts and culture plan. This need was even more pressing with the Civic Centre expected to be closed for a significant period of time.

An established hub in the building would be great for the future of Mary Street too, Ms Campbell said.

"A lot of that document does support what our goals are," she said.

The group has met with Mr Gray and Mayor Glen Hartwig about the issue, with the possibility of a new home raised.

Unfortunately one possibility that has been found is not owned by the council, has no disabled access, has no parking, and is in a residential area.

Gympie Times


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