22 C
Byron Shire
December 3, 2021

Bangalow venues in need of financial help

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Bangalow A&I Hall. Photo byron.nsw.gov.au

Two of the Shire’s most well-known community spaces have come cap-in-hand to Byron Council, after suffering major income losses as a result of COVID-related public health orders.

The committees which manage Bangalow’s Arts and Industry Hall (A&I Hall) and the Bangalow Heritage House are asking for a combined total of more than $13,000 to help them stay afloat.

Councillors will vote on whether or not to meet the request at this week’s full Council meeting.

The Council staff report on the matter – which recommends that councillors accede to both requests – said that the Bangalow A&I Hall Committee had experienced ‘direct and cumulative impacts to its operations owing to COVID-19 restrictions, and changes to NSW Public Health Orders (PHOs)’. 

‘The PHOs have directly affected capacity limits, types of activities, periods of forced closure and more recently vaccination requirements.

‘This has resulted in an inability to generate income. Although the Bangalow A&I Hall reopened in September, in line with the relevant PHO, hall bookings remain slow.’

In relation to the Bangalow Heritage House, staff said that, ‘owing to an ageing volunteer base and COVID-19 Public Health Orders restrictions, the Society was forced to close the cafe and museum to the public in early 2021’.

‘The Society, not having the capacity to re-let the cafe, requested that Council run an expression of interest (EOI) for a sub-lease to manage the cafe.

‘An EOI… ran from August  4 to 31, 2021. Council received no submissions.’

‘As a result, the Society has no income to pay outgoings under its lease agreement. The Society seeks financial assistance from Council to cover its fixed costs under the lease until a new café operator can be found.’

Staff have recommended that the A&I Hall committee be given $7,300 to ‘cover operational expenditure for the four-month period of November 2021 to February 2022’. They also suggest that Council provide $2,100.00 to the Bangalow Heritage Society, to cover outgoings for a six-month period with this amount repayable to Council over a six-month term upon commencement of cafe operations.

The two entreaties are the latest in a stream of requests from community halls, not-for-profit organisations and businesses across the Shire who have been pushed to the brink of closure over the past two years by COVID-19 and the government policies mde in response to it.

The greater ‘freedoms’ introduced for vaccinated people appear to have made little difference to the bottom lines of those affected, with many continuing to operate at a fraction of their previous capacity.

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