Moree community wants cinema but not cost

Feature in the Moree Champion in July, 1991 for the opening of Cascades Theatre.

Feature in the Moree Champion in July, 1991 for the opening of Cascades Theatre.

The residents of Moree Plains Shire have made it clear – they want a cinema but they don’t want to pay for it.

A current push to redevelop the old Cascades Theatre into a cinema and entertainment complex has created plenty of conversation in the Moree community, with many people putting forward valid reasons both for and against the idea.

Based on feedback the Moree Champion has received through a number of polls we’ve been running and Facebook comments on the original story we wrote about the proposal, it seems most people would like to see a cinema back in Moree, however a majority don’t want it if it means an expense to Moree Plains Shire Council, who they believe could better spend ratepayer money elsewhere.

Cases for redeveloping Cascades Theatre:

“It would be awesome. Firstly no where for young people to go especially our your people with disabilities they have to travel to either Inverell Narrabri or Goondiwindi this is an added stress for us as parents ... please give it your best shot at making it happen ...” – Wendy O’Neill

“What a great idea. Entertainment, employment and enterprise!” – Merryl Dillon

“Terrific idea! Gotta 'do' something, people go to Narrabri, Gundy and Inverell theatres now. But wait, wait for it, "Can't park our cars over East, no lighting, not safe, no 'this', no 'that!" Where in Moree 'are' you safe? Where in any town 'are' you safe? You just have to be 'aware'! Plenty of lighting from the highway and street lights over East now! Would be great to be able to go and have a meal and see a movie without having to go out of town! Been here 30 years and all we see is an exudus of people moving out, shopping out of town etc. Before bagging me out, I buy 90 per cent of what we can here in town! I dont know what the financial answer is but to do nothing is defeatist and akin to taking the bat and ball home and doing nothing! Are there government grants for such things as entertainment/cinema considering some of the ratbag ideas that get gifted $$$'s. Eg Clovers Milk Crate, Ribbons etc 'there's' our cinema! Priories are important but all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy as 'they' say.” – Julie Taylor

“Fantastic idea. We have no real entertainment venues other than clubs and pubs which do not suit everyone.” – Maureen Baker

Cases against council taking on the redevelopment of Cascades Theatre:

“The Moree Shire is firstly and foremost an agricultural town. Moree Plains Shire Council to date cannot afford to maintain the unsealed road network as it is, let alone pump money into a cinema complex that would struggle to break even. Whilst a cinema would be an awesome addition to our town, we simply cannot afford it. If agriculture cannot flourish Moree's problems will be much bigger than what it currently is without a cinema. Priorities people!!” – Alisa Martin

“Would be great to have a movie theatre in Moree! But there's a reason no private companies have already done it. There is no profit therefore rates payers would be paying extra to cover for it every year. We pay enough as it is.” – Harry Woods

“As long as you don't expect the rate payers to pay for it. The council would have to borrow the $2 million on top of the $49 million we currently owe. Crossing theatre in Narrabri loses about $1.3 million every year. We currently can't even maintain school bus runs on unsealed roads. High speed internet would be a more practical investment. It would not only provide entertainment but it would aid business developement. A lack of things to do in Moree is not the problem. Young single people are moving in but we loose families as their children are reaching high school, a cinema wont address this issue. The inland rail intermodal terminal will need a transport network and communications to support it and jobs will follow. It`s population growth Moree needs not a higher rate burden on shrinking community.” – Greg Smith

“Would be good for Moree to have an entertainment venue but why spend so much money developing one when so much has been wasted on others that where poorly run. We had an amazing town hall that held many balls, concerts, theatre, bands and events now it's gone, there are numerous school halls not used enough, clubs like the old leagues club, the old bowels club, the rsl club they where or still are fine venues. Sadly despite all the talk that it would be good I feel people wouldn't patronise it in the long term just look at the past record. It would be a novelty then a white elephant. Why I'm not sure but I think it has a lot to do with lack of and or poor organisation.I may not live in Moree any more but I think the best answer is spend less and hire an entertainment organiser or a small team include some young and old and town and land folk and use what you've got. Test the waters if no one shows up then you've not wasted precious funds if it's a souring success then go re develop cascades.” – Debra Lynch

“Build a Bowling Alley with 8 lanes, a childrens playground, arcade area, laser tag room, party room, indoor cricket area and a conference room. Have weekly bowling competitions and it would be great for school sports also. A bowling alley has so much to offer than a cinema. Illegal Movie Downloading is destroying The Cinema Industry. Building a cinema simply won't work. We also have many small surrounding communities and their schools that will visit Moree for the Bowling. A cinema is not a good idea, it has money loss written all over it especially with what the internet has to offer. I pray we can get a Bowling Alley one day and soon. There is a perfect building on Gwydir St, it's in a good area and has enough room for a good size parking lot  :)” – Frances Carney

Poll results:

The Moree Champion ran three polls about the proposal to redevelop Cascades, with more than one hundred people voting in each.

A poll about whether the Moree community would like to see Cascades redeveloped as a cinema and entertainment venue shows that 85 per cent of people are in favour of the idea, with 153 yes votes of a total of 179.

However, 60 per cent of people are against the idea of ratepayers receiving a special rate rise to fund a cinema, according to a separate poll.

Council currently has $2 million set aside in next year’s budget for the redevelopment of Moree Memorial Hall, however that funding is contingent on successfully gaining a $2 million funding contribution from the government.

Ms Mansfield hopes her proposal might convince council to use some of that $2 million funding for the redevelopment of Cascades and then both the Moree Memorial Hall and Cascades can work together as entertainment venues for the town.

More than half of the people who voted in a third poll (asking ‘if Moree Plains Shire Council had a spare $2 million what would you like to see?’) said they would like to see Cascades redeveloped, while 14 per cent of people said they’d prefer funding be spent on upgrading rural roads, 10 per cent said they’d like to see an indoor multi-complex sporting centre in Moree and eight per cent want an ice-skating rink and bowling alley.

Just under four per cent of the 128 people surveyed said they’d like to see the $2 million spent on Moree Memorial Hall upgrades.

The proposal:

The proposal to redevelop Cascades Theatre is being led by current owner Bev Mansfield, with the support of Moree Chamber of Commerce, who would like to see council fund the redevelopment, with the idea that once completed, all cultural, arts and entertainment groups in Moree could form a committee to run the venue as a community, not-for-profit venture, with no ongoing costs for council.

STILL INTACT: The theatre inside the Cascades building was relatively unharmed by the two fires that burnt the building. This is what the theatre looks like today.

STILL INTACT: The theatre inside the Cascades building was relatively unharmed by the two fires that burnt the building. This is what the theatre looks like today.

Ms Mansfield estimates that it would cost approximately $2 million to redevelop the building which would include adding a second theatre, purchasing digital screening equipment, foyer upgrades and the cost of aesthetic upgades in the existing theatre such as new paint, curtains, etc.

A petition in support of the redevelopment currently has more than 1,900 signatures, which Ms Mansfield will include in her proposal, along with 30 letters of support.

If you have a petition that is yet to be counted, drop it off at Sylvia’s Fabrics or Faulkner’s Newsagency as soon as possible.

Ms Mansfield will be taking the proposal to the next council meeting.