Curtain call for more money for entertainment centre

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre staff have made a passionate plea for more money, saying the centre will go into “survival mode” if more support is not provided.

General manager Sharon Custers and chairman Simon Jacob told Bunbury City Council in a presentation on Tuesday night the centre was set to finish the year in deficit despite a number of cutbacks.

The council cut funding to the centre by 10 per cent in the 2016-17 Budget, bringing this year’s allocation down to $387,300.

Ms Custers told the council while she understood the reasoning behind the decrease, the cuts plus a 10 per cent decline in ticket sales contributed to the centre’s forecast to finish in the red at the end of the year.

The predicted deficit comes despite efforts by BREC to bring up its revenue, including a $3.50 ticket booking fee, wage reductions and allowing drinks into the theatre.

Ms Custers said she could not “stress enough” that BREC would not get anywhere unless the council worked with staff.

“Of course we can survive on less, but we will be in survival mode,” she said.

“We see a bright future for BREC in Bunbury, but only if we can work with the City of Bunbury.”

Mayor Gary Brennan said BREC was an “important partner” to Bunbury and handed down some advice to Ms Custers and Mr Jacob.

“The city’s role is to facilitate and get out of the way – the community has really grasped that and the more creatives you attract to a regional city the more will come as a result,” Mr Brennan said.

“I’m really pleased how events are attracting big crowds to Bunbury.

“I can see only very bright things in the future, BREC is a very important partner in that process but we have so much going on that I’m sure you’re across most of those things.”

Mr Brennan also questioned how the centre was spending nearly $250,000 on repairs and maintenance, which was outlined in Tuesday’s presentation.

“So you’re spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars ... that seems extraordinary,” he said.

Ms Custers said she was originally shocked by the figure and staff were looking at what could be done in that area, which included approaching nearby councils for a more regional approach to funding.

The council was also told BREC would continue to approach Greater Bunbury shires for a more regional approach to funding.

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