SOS: The Majestic Theatre.
SOS: The Majestic Theatre.

Council looks to 'rescue' iconic theatre from financial ruin

AT THE historic Majestic Theatre, council must decide if the shows should continue to go on by using $16,000 of ratepayers money as a financial prop.

However councillor Frank Pardon this week flagged to council that he will put forward a motion at next week's general committee meeting to take over the hinterland attraction outright.

"As councillors well know, I think we should purchase this facility, but I'll have that debate Monday," Cr Pardon said.

As the situation stands now, councillors have been handed a staff recommendation to provide a one-off heritage levy allocation to help keep the doors open of the longest running silent theatre venue.

Present owner Pomona Arts Inc is seeking assistance to cover its mounting costs and council community services director Alan 'Fox' Rogers said council should be an active player under certain conditions. Council understands through informal discussions to date, the PAI and previous owner and theatre identity Ron West are both open a council buy out.

Mr Rogers said the State Heritage listed Majestic Theatre built in 1921, is one of the Noosa hinterland's most iconic and well-loved buildings and is now owned and managed by Pomona Arts Inc.

This non-profit community organisation has "successfully activated" the building for the past 12 years through film screenings, theatrical and community events.

"Like all heritage buildings, the Majestic Theatre is expensive to maintain and operate and PAI has struggled to meet its mortgage and overdraft payments for a number of years," Mr Rogers said.

"In order to continue to operate the PAI management committee has undertaken a major fundraising drive over the past year, which has seen their operating position improve in the short term.

"However, the amount of time and effort involved in undertaking this campaign has been significant and in the longer term there is a major risk that the PAI's volunteer management committee will burn out and the building will revert to the mortgagor."

Mr Rogers said in 2006, council tipped in $198,000 to help fund a major refurbishment .

"The state and federal governments also made significant contributions to this upgrade," he said.

"Some 12 years later, the building is once again vulnerable as the PAI finds itself in financial difficulties and unable to undertake programed maintenance."

Mr Rogers' recommendation is to undertake a conservation management plan of the theatre with a view to developing a maintenance program for the building.

The council would also allocate $16,667 from the heritage levy, for heritage purposes only and the PAI would have to develop' a business plan. This would have to demonstrate how the PAI will reduce its operational cost base.