To help music and culture thrive in the region, Dubbo Regional Council will investigate ways they can support the Macquarie Conservatorium of Music [The Con] to find a new home.
The Con's lease of a NSW Government building expired in December 2022, and with the help of the council, they have been granted a six month lease extension.
Council have been assisting since 2020 to investigate potential facilities for a short to medium term lease opportunity but have found so far the Former TAFE building, former Carpet Court, The Greens, the Community Arts Centre, 69 Church Street Cottage were all not viable.
The Con is a non-profit community organisation providing music education for Dubbo and the Orana region.
It is part of a network of 17 regional conservatoriums, providing community-based music education for people living in regional New South Wales.
Based in Dubbo with a staff of specialist music teachers, The Con is currently housed in a former school, with fourteen well-equipped teaching and rehearsal studios, and a performance hall used for public concerts and events.
The Con was advised by the NSW Education Department in July 2019 that their current lease arrangement would not be renewed past December 2022.
The Con have been looking at a number of options, communicating with a variety of stakeholders to explore short, medium or long term options in line with their expectations, requirements financial capacity and investment viability.
Councillor Josh Black said the conservatorium was a very important part of the culture in Dubbo and for attracting more families to the region.
"There's 1400 plus students in the region, not just in Dubbo that get lessons, they put on a lot of good shows and it's a very important aspect for attracting workers to Dubbo who look to see what's available for their children - what they can participate in - getting music lessons and building culturally," he said.
"Whatever we can do as a council to make sure the conservatorium stays here, we should do."
Cr Black said it was disappointing the state government hasn't been able to give the conservatorium enough funding to buy and fit out their own building, as seen in other regional areas such as Orange.
Deputy mayor Richard Ivey said the council should foster the development of the conservatorium and help them however they can.
"The conservatorium is a vital resource in our area, we are a regional area competing with other regional areas and we do want to offer residents and potential residents a broad life experience," he said.
"We have incredible sporting facilities but we've got a good arts movement, and highly talented artists, the conservatorium does compliment that whole cultural centre."
Councillor Jessica Gough said music education was important as not every child wanted to participate in sport.
"Music education is important, it's good for cognitive development, not every kid wants to go to the sporting field and chuck a footy, some like to go to the music room and play the piano, so I really do urge council to help in every way possible to make sure this conservatorium continues on," she said.
"There's 1600 kids learning music, they facilitate other music programs for schools in Wellington, Narromine and further beyond, it's pretty vital to our cultural development as a city."
The council staff are continuing with preliminary work on the potential development of a cultural precinct that could centrally house related cultural services, such as a conservatorium. This is currently not supported with any identified funding or endorsed funding strategy, and the timing will not address the current challenge facing the Con to find accommodation in the short to medium term.
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