By CASEY NEILL
THE Drum Theatre will grow into a community and cultural hub if a new strategy goes according to plan.
Greater Dandenong councillors passed a 10-year strategic plan for the venue at their 22 February meeting.
During the meeting councillor Sean O’Reilly questioned whether the council should be subsidising the Drum to the tune of $700,000-plus a year.
But Cr Jim Memeti said his comments were “a bit harsh”.
“Council is not in the business of making money. It’s in the business of providing services,” he said.
“It’s not fair on judging the Drum. It doesn’t have to make a profit.”
Cr Roz Blades said ending the subsidy would increase access costs to the community.
“We wanted it to belong to them,” she said.
“The financial costs don’t matter because what the Drum has done to improve the perception of Dandenong is worth more than money.”
Cr Matthew Kirwan said the Drum Theatre was essential to the Revitalising Central Dandenong project.
“It shouldn’t just be seen as a performing arts centre,” he said.
The Drum Theatre Advisory Committee (DTAC) was established in 2012 to provide the council with independent advice about the Drum’s direction.
It prepared the strategic plan to guide the Drum though the next 10 years and generate greater community participation along the way.
In May last year the DTAC commissioned market research to better understand community perceptions and attitudes to the Drum.
This found that residents yet to experience the theatre wanted to participate in activities such as workshops, classes and lectures.
Identified participation barriers included a perceived lack of safety at night, parking availability and an unwelcoming facade.
“The challenge is to promote Drum Theatre, its program and Dandenong as an entertainment, cultural and leisure based destination,” the council report said.
The Drum will develop a broader program of activities to provide more reasons for the community to visit and positioning it as a community and cultural hub.
The plan is to encourage new theatre hirers, provide active arts participation activities, build Drum Theatre awareness, activate all spaces within the venue for meetings, functions and programs, and focus on artist development to grow local talent.
Measurable key performance indicators will be reported to the council annually.