Large crowd at Culture Centre meeting

by Jan Hawkins

The public meeting organised by the Cromwell Cultural Centre Trust gathered over 80 interested locals at the Lowburn Hall last Wednesday night.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the planned future-proofed civic centre for the Cromwell area, and how it marries to the Central Otago District Council (CODC)’s Long-term Plan.

The attendees heard from members of the Trust, who collected thoughts and ideas from the floor. 

Clutha Community Hub Charitable Trust chairperson Dale Anderson addressed the meeting about its successful partnership with council.  Council there chose to let the community drive the project, which now attracts national touring events like the New Zealand Ballet.  They gained shovel-ready funding for the 3100 square metre facility, and fulfilled their aim of, ‘Inspiring the future by serving the present and honouring the past’.

In May 2020 the Cromwell Cultural Centre trust were very excited that we would be eligible for government funding as a shovel-ready project, too, but the chance was missed.

The Trust has put great effort into investigating and assessing options, detailing funding, drawing concept plans  and ensuring that the facility will be community-led.  Trust member Jessie Sutherland says,

“We tried to engage with the consultants and share our research, but we have not been heard or valued by CODC.”

Fellow Trust member James Dicey says,

“All the work we have done is for nought – it is mired in bureaucracy.”

Robin Dicey spoke of his disbelief that re-furbishment of the old facility is still an option for the council.  He believes that with the professional expertise of the Trust and other volunteers, the community can achieve a better facility in, importantly, a quicker time, while meeting council commitments, with community ownership and built-in financial sustainability.  He says that this can be done ‘without requiring any rates funding whatsoever’.

“Cromwell really does deserve better.” says Robin, adding that the Cromwell Community Board is the richest community board in the country with over $20 million in reserves, but CODC is the overarching authority for those funds.

As Martin Anderson advised the meeting,

“This is not a done deal.  If there is a strong groundswell of local support for a different option, it can change.”

The meeting was urged to write submissions on the CODC’s Long-term Plan by the deadline of Sunday 25 April and the Trust is offering drop-in session this week via email and facebook.

For further information, discussion or questions e-mail them on cromwellculturalcentretrust@gmail.com.

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