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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Community Centre seeks bar approval

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The Byron Community Centre is planning to turn its iconic verandah into a donors’ bar in a bid to attract desperately needed funding for arts and community projects at the Byron Theatre.

The centre, which receives no ongoing government funding, has lodged a Development Application (DA) for the verandah bar with Byron Council.

The verandah at the Byron Bay Community Centre. Image supplied

The venue would be open from 4pm till 9pm, Wednesday to Sunday, and would cater exclusively to people who have donated a significant sum to the theatre, which then entitles them to a bar membership.

‘We’re looking at creative ways to fund social programs for the benefit of our community,’ the Centre’s General Manager, Louise O’Connell, said.

‘This bar will help to revive the arts and community offerings at the Byron Theatre and in turn support local artists, musicians and community groups.

‘COVID-19 has had a huge impact on these highly valued members of our community, as well as the arts more generally, which play a vital role in Byron’s unique and vibrant culture.

‘This facility will provide a wonderful meeting place in the town centre for members, with all funds directed back into vital arts and community programs in Byron Theatre’.

Ms O’Connell said the decision to turn the verandah into an exclusive bar for members rather than a venue open to all locals came from the need to find a unique way to support the arts.

‘It is simply an opportunity for donors to get something back from their donation to support local community groups and artists’, she said.

‘The Verandah Bar utilises a currently unused space in the Community Centre. 


‘We are opening it to donors who want to contribute to the arts, with the benefit of membership being access to the bar’.

The Centre is seeking sponsorship to help get the bar up and running, as well as to support a planned upgrade of the Byron Theatre bar in the downstairs courtyard.

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  1. This sounds like a great idea! The Byron Theatre is a valuable local asset and we need to keep the Community Centre sufficiently funded to continue the great work they do in the community.
    I’m sure many of us would love to meet and have a drink without the jostle of loud local bars. But, what is the “significant sum” needed to qualify? I’m in…as long as they promise to keep the music low enough for us to have a conversation without screaming.

  2. Who needs the Melbourne Club when you can have the Byron Club? A broad Queenslander style verandah, potted palms, ambient music, cocktail in hand and a view of the throngs of the amusing hoi polloi below. Best of all, not having to rub shoulders with said hoi polloi. Count me in – not. Even if I could afford I don’t think this would be my scene or tribe.

    I really can’t believe I’m reading this proposal!

    Funding arts and community projects sounds great and I know the money has to come from somewhere in these straitened times – but there’s something about this suggestion that really doesn’t sit right with me.

    Firstly to cater for an exclusive, privileged clientele in a community facility, whether the space is currently used or not, seems rather against the spirit the Centre should embody. Access to any Centre privileges should not be dependent on large outlays of donations and therefore presumably out of reach to many.

    Secondly I cant help but be worried that this takes us further in the direction of Byron Bay becoming the domain of the well-heeled, yummy and famous.

    I agree with Trude that the area is crying out for a relaxed venue providing a range of music genres at a civilised volume. What if the area was used for some ticketed performances from some of our lesser known but talented musicians with takings apportioned between artists and Centre with the real money being made behind the bar. There could be a set genre per night.

    Something of this nature would be much more inclusive, showcase and support local less exposed talent and cater for a real community need. At the same time making some money.

    But to judge fairly, before our community facility is thus commandeered, can we know a little more about the arts and community projects planned? Can we know about the sorts of arts and community projects undertaken by the Centre before Covid hit?


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