The visual effects house Cumulus is expanding and moving from Byron Bay to new premises beside the river in Ballina, with an additional fifty jobs predicted and $1m additional state funding.
The announcement was made by newly appointed NSW Arts Minister Ben Franklin and newly elected Ballina Mayor Sharon Cadwallader, together with Cumulus founding owner Will Gammon.
MLC Ben Franklin said, ‘This is an incredibly exciting day for a range of reasons… This is my first official function since I was called by the Premier last night to take on the role of Minister for the Arts, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Regional Youth.
‘And I’m so excited to be here with Will Gammon, an extraordinary community leader and someone who has contributed so much to the cultural life of our region.
‘In making this announcement today, I’m also absolutely delighted to be here with my very good friend, Councillor Sharon Cadwallader, who is now her Worship the Mayor Sharon Cadwallader. Sharon and I have worked together for so many years, and it’s just such a privilege and a pleasure to be standing with you today in both of our first official functions.
‘Sharon, I know you’re going to be extraordinary for the Shire, you’re going to do great things. And I can’t wait to do that with you by your side.’
Regional jobs creation fund
Mr Franklin said, ‘We wanted to make sure that we provided the impetus for businesses to employ local people, to keep locals on the ground. Obviously from my perspective, to do that in cultural and creative industries would be amazing.
‘So when a proposal came from Will Gammon to move Cumulus VFX from Byron Bay to Ballina, and at the same time increasing the number of jobs from 25 jobs to 75… that was too good an opportunity to refuse, and so the government is therefore committing a million dollars, to supporting this amazing project.’
Speaking about Will Gammon and his wife Anouska, ‘an incredible creative leader in her own right’, Mr Franklin said, ‘This is what we want in our regions, we want people who are passionate about their community. But they’re not only leaders in the community, they’re not only leaders at a state level, we’ve got people here who are leaders at a national level of our cultural and creative ideas, who have done extraordinary work in films across the globe.’
Mayor Sharon Cadwallader followed, saying it was a delight to be at her first official function. ‘To be able to create fifty jobs here in Ballina is really something that we want more of…
‘Creative industries is where we’re going to take this shire. We are going to really make this the gateway of the Northern Rivers, the business hub here,’ she said.
Will Gammon from Cumulus VFX thanked the minister and mayor warmly for their support over the years. ‘It’s a very hard sort of industry to make headway,’ he said, ‘especially in a regional area where the industry doesn’t really exist at the moment.
‘To get this sort of support from the government and give us the opportunity to give jobs to the youth and the creative industries is just a huge thing that we’ve been striving for years to create, from what started in my garage and now to this amazing property in Ballina on the beautiful riverfront.
‘This is such a proud moment in the evolution of our company, and I’m very excited to see how the industry will grow in the region… I’ve got a million people to thank, including my family, my wife and my kids, and the Cumulus staff,’ said Mr Gammon.
‘I’m looking forward to seeing where we go to next.’
Will Gammon told The Echo that the new Ballina space at the Reside Complex was in the midst of a major fit-out. ‘We’ve got the bottom level with these two offices here, which is 310 square meters, and obviously looking straight onto the river and with the yard out here, it’s a bit of respite from the computer screens.
‘It’s going to be a great opportunity for the creatives to have a beautiful environment to be creative in.’
While Ballina will be the new centre for Cumulus post-production and VFX work, Alstonville will remain the location for Will Gammon’s other screen business, Byron Studios.
Sharon Cadwallader and Ben Franklin both said they hoped more high tech creative enterprises would be attracted to Ballina.
Mr Franklin said it was a very exciting time. ‘I’m incredibly passionate about the arts and culture and I just can’t wait to be able to influence and to effect change across the whole state in that space,’ he said.
‘We live in the best part of the world and to be able to highlight the Northern Rivers to the rest of the state and the rest of the nation, that’s something I’m really, really looking forward to.’