Item 11.2 - Attachment 1

Minutes of Riverside Advisory Committee 9 February 2012






Sue Coleman, Owen Eckford, Michline Jammal (arrived 6.56pm), Virginia Judge, Clr Scott Lloyd (arrived 6.32pm), Luke Mackey, Julianne May (arrived 6.30pm), Clr Michael McDermott, Keiasha Naidoo, Amanda Rose, Clr Andrew Wilson and Jane Witter




Robert Love (Riverside Theatre Director), Sean Clarke (Technical Coordinator) Pam (Business Manager), Suzanne Hannema (Marketing Manager), Scott Gregg (Director Property Development), Lucinda Minder-Jones (Development Manager) and Joy Bramham (Minute Clerk)




Apologies were received for Christopher Tooher. It was also noted that Richard Evans declined a position on the Board due to a recent change in employment.


1     Welcome

Sue Coleman welcomed everyone to the 5th Riverside Theatres Advisory Board and members introduced themselves.


2     Riverside Board Meetings

Meeting dates

The Board considered a report from Sue Coleman on various Advisory Board procedures.  It decided to meet on the 2nd Tuesday of even numbered months at  6:00 -8:30pm. Car parking may be arranged on most occasions via manual entry or by pass code.


Confirmed meeting dates for 2012 are therefore as follows:-


12 April 2012

14 June 2012

 9 August 2012

11 October 2012

13 December 2012


Agenda Items

The following will be standing items on the agenda:-

·   Guest speaker presenting on a given topic

·   Discussion relating to the presentation

·   Operational reports for the preceding period



Sue Coleman explained the procedures relating to the Chairperson role as outlined in the Advisory Board’s Terms of Reference and called for nominations for the position of Chairperson.


The nominations received for Chairperson, in alphabetical order, were:-


(1)            Owen Eckford 


There being no further nominations, Sue Coleman declared Owen Eckford duly elected as Chairperson and he assumed the Chair.


4       Presentation – Parramatta City of the Future

Scott Gregg and Lucinda Minder-Jones attended the meeting to give a presentation on property development in Parramatta.   The main points from the presentation are as follows:-

·   The city centre is a cultural and entertainment hub. The relaunch of the Visitor’s Centre as a Discovery Centre is just the beginning and the River gives an ideal focus for future development of complementary facilities.

·   Council owns a lot of property around the city centre and had adopted a property strategy to exploit the opportunities this presents.

·   The Lennox Bridge Carpark site is one such opportunity that is currently being explored.

·   The improvement of Council carparks will also assist the arts precinct with more accessible parking.


Discussion arising from Presentation

The Board discussed a number of issues arising from the presentation including potential opportunities to encourage both private and public sector investment in the development of cultural facilities and public art.  The age and constraints of the existing Riverside Theatres was discussed along with the potential redevelopment of the theatres in relation to new infrastructure, bigger theatres, festivals and affordable space.   Members commented on the need to make culture opportunities accessible to all and how events such as Parramasala and Sydney Festival can assist in broadening this access.   The Board agreed to have further discussion on the development of Parramatta and the strategic opportunities for enhancing Riverside Theatres later in 2012.


5       Riverside Background

Key Riverside Facts

Riverside Theatres Director, Robert Love, provided an overview of the Theatre’s operations and circulated several relevant reports and promotional collateral.  A financial summary was distributed. Riverside Theatres used to operate as incorporated company but is now a full business unit of Council with 16 permanent staff, 13-14 FTE of casual staff and contractors.


There are 3 theatre spaces, the Lennox Theatre that can hold 226 people, Raffertys Theatre that can seat 110 and Riverside Theatre that can set 750 people. There is also the courtyard area that can be used as an outside performance area as well as gallery space.


Annual attendance is currently 125,000 of which 85,000 is ticketed. The rest is a combination of complimentary tickets and conference attendance. Attendance in the past 5 years has remained fairly static, but there have been more productions. This is mainly due to market changes and a very competitive audience environment. There is a core and loyal audience that attends the annual performance season and a desire to cross sell and build an audience.


Riverside Theatres is known for its diversity in programs and the ability to attract people back to other events. It was suggested that a permanent theatre company or producing organisation might assist in this.  


Over 50% of operating revenue is from earned income with the majority of the rest from Council. The biggest earners are hire and recoveries with ticket sales also being relatively high.


It was noted that there is a difference between presenting, producing and straight hires. Presenting means buying the production and presenting it, producing means building the production from the ground up that means it can be sold and move beyond Parramatta, while straight hires are simply renting of the venue.    


Amanda Rose requested more detailed financial information with individual line items. Financial reports for the past 2 years can be provided to all interested Board members.



A summary of current Theatre programs and activities was circulated.


Community program

Robert Love advised that the community program is not widely publicised and often goes under the radar.  Sometimes as private functions, community events  have a captive audience and are specially marketed.  The larger musicals that are produced generally have a few professional actors with many talented amateurs.


Note Jane Witter left the meeting at 8.02pm


Education program

The education program is continuing to grow and has some crossover with the community program.


Production and Touring

Riverside uses a producing business model that often requires touring following an inaugural Riverside season to amortise the cost of a Riverside produced production, however most of the time the production is sold off. Thank God Its’ Friday and My Imaginary Family are touring in 2012 with guaranteed funding.



The Board discussed the possibility of incorporating book to film adaption discussion groups into this program. The committee also discussed the possibility of tapping into the Sydney Writers Festival, which is already done within the education program.


Beyond the Square/Disability program

Robert Love also advised that the disability arts program at Riverside Theatres is growing and has some State Government support. There are 6 workshops a week held in Granville for 4 x 10 week terms. There is also the Ruckus group which is working on writing and may in the future become a small performance group.


There are hearing loops and wheelchair access in all theatres; however the disabled toilets will need to be refurbished due to the increase in wheelchair size.



Current festival programs were outlined and the Board discussed the the possibility of the Sacred Music Festival being run in conjunction with the Mind Body Spirit Festival to increase publicity.   The Board also discussed options for festival prices.   It was noted that if someone wants to see something they will pay any price, but pricing can be a big issue for the general public. Festivals can be partially subsidised which can open the theatre up to a wider audience and assist in educating an audience. The need for more free events in Parramatta, was also discussed.


Significant upcoming projects and initiatives

The Board discussed social media and its importance especially as a marketing tool. The Board also discussed the proximity to the Westmead Health precinct and an untapped audience potential.  The Board also discussed the need to grow performers and take performance from the fringe and bring them into the mainstream to assist in creating new audiences.


Strategic Pan

The Riverside Theatres Strategic Plan was circulated and further discussion on this item was deferred due to time constraints.


6   General Business

The Board agreed that the key topic for discussion at the next Board meeting will be the marketing of Riverside Theatres..



12 April 20112 at 6:00pm

Riverside Theatres


The meeting terminated at 8.46pm