Ian Tiley, who was administrator of Armidale Regional Council when it announced plans to fund a performing arts centre at the new super school, has spoken publicly about the conversations that took place about the plan.
Dr Tiley said it was Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall who asked him if council would fund a 1000-seat entertainment centre as part of Armidale Secondary School to the tune of $1 million.
“I became administrator in May 2016, and was very aware of the community’s strong need for an entertainment centre, and I progressed the library proposal later that year, which left the need still for the entertainment centre,” Dr Tiley said.
“I had a number of discussions with our local MP Adam Marshall, and in the lead-up to the 2017 State Budget, he approached me and asked me would the council commit, I think he said at the time $1.5 million, to secure a 1000 seat entertainment centre as part of the new super school.
“I consulted with staff and had a special council meeting. I committed $1million over three years to ensure that we had a facility as part of the super school.”
The Minister then announced the super school in the state budget, and I confirmed to the local Member the council’s resolution.Dr Ian Tiley
Dr Tiley thought it was a brilliant deal from council’s perspective.
“Alternate projects in or around the old library were millions and millions of dollars, and there was no way the council would ever have the ability to borrow money for that purpose,” he said.
“I’d had discussions with both Barnaby Joyce and Adam Marshall, and it was highly unlikely that grant funding would be made available for a facility in that location.
“So, for $1 million to secure, at that time, a 1000 seat shared entertainment centre as part of the new super school was a brilliant deal in my view, which would cost council $330,000 a year over three years.”
Council’s resolution stipulated that funding would only be paid if the centre had seating for 1000, could be used by the community and if the community had input into its design. When none of these terms were reached, the current council wisely dropped this funding its as part of last year’s budget savings.
Dr Tiley said he met with a team from the Department of Education and, to him, they appeared very sceptical about the prospect of the entertainment centre being delivered as part of the project.
“In my own mind, I had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to happen, but Adam’s media release a couple of days ago was very heartening,” he said.
“To be able to secure even a 450 seat auditorium for the people of the Armidale region would be a much better situation than prevails at present.”
The Armidale Express has attempted to contact Mr Marshall for his response.