Meeting Date/Time:

Thursday, 17th, November 2022 / 5.30 PM AEST

Advisory Committee:

Lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis (Chair)

Jon Greig

Cr Angela Humphries


Cr Georgina Valjak

Cr Cameron Maclean

Dr. Robert Lang


John Moore

Marwa Abouzeid

Keiasha Naidoo


Vyvienne Abla




Catherine Cunningham          

Cr Cameron Maclean



Craig McMaster, Director of Riverside Theatres

Tanya Sampson, Business Manager


Mike Brew, Operations Manager

Catherine Swallow, Program Manager


Sophie Anderson, Marketing & Communications Team Leader



Matthew Lazarus-Hall  

Joanne Kee Executive Producer NTofP

Jackie Emery





Craig McMaster

Acknowledgment of Country

Craig McMaster (CM) made an Acknowledgement of Country to the Dharug land where the meeting was held.

The meeting commenced at 5.40 pm.


AGENDA ITEMS #2:  Welcome and Apologies

Craig McMaster (Acting Chair)

With a quorum present, the Acting Chair (Craig McMaster) opened the meeting, noted the apologies, and welcomed the Riverside Advisory Committee members to the meeting.


AGENDA ITEMS #3:  Disclosure of interest

Craig McMaster (Acting Chair)

The Acting Chair called for any advice from Committee Members on conflict of interest.
No conflicts were declared, and the results were noted.


AGENDA ITEMS #4Minutes of Meeting 15 Sept 2022


The minutes of the meeting of the previous Advisory Committee was noted as having been distributed and read. 

MOTION: For the minutes of the last meeting to be accepted and approved.
The Motion was moved by Keisha Naidoo. 
The Motion was seconded by Dr. Robert Lang and RESOLVED.



AGENDA ITEMS #5:  Election of Chair and Deputy Chair

Craig McMaster

Craig McMaster called for nominations for the position of Chairperson and Deputy chair. Self-nominations received from Keisha Naidoo and Dr. Robert Lang.

Each nominee spoke about their reasons for nominating, their experience, and their enthusiasm for the role.

Craig McMaster called for a vote by way of a show of hands of committee members present at the meeting (online and at the venue).

A question was raised by Catherine Cunningham regarding the possibility of a Co-Chair scenario. Jon Greig advised referral to terms of reference would be required to determine validity.

The result was 4 votes for Keisha Naidoo and 3 votes for Dr. Robert Lang. There was one eligible voter who abstained from voting.

The vote resulted in Keisha Naidoo being elected as the Chairperson.

Dr. Robert Lang, Deputy chair.


MOTION: For the minutes to note the confirmation of the elected Chair and Deputy Chair.

The Motion was moved by John Moore. 
The Motion was seconded by Jon Greig and RESOLVED.




AGENDA ITEMS #6:  Directors Update Presentation

Craig McMaster

Craig McMaster provided a review of the Operations Update of Riverside.

1. Programming- Delivery of 22/23 Program and Education Brochure.

2. Rephasing of 2022/23 Forecast.

3. Introduction of automatic customer service satisfaction measurement survey.

4. Develop and finalised directorates Riverside Business Plan )  Community Services Business Unit Plan - Riverside Theatres

5. Impact on the Marketing team realising benefits in Digital Marketing.

6. Recap on recent shows

Kinky Boots, Practical Guide to Self-Defence (collaboration production with

 Merrigong), Sydney Fringe Festival, and Spot On.

Comments on “Spot On” by Craig McMaster – a great transportable product, received the best customer feedback and strong partnership with Playgroup NSW.

Chairperson Keisha Naidoo raised the point of discussion regarding the increase in membership by creating an opportunity for a family membership.


General discussion around the difficulty retaining young people ‘s interest in theatre. In particular the 18-25 demographic.

Craig McMaster and Sophie Anderson advised the committee that the rescope of the membership plan is on the radar of the team.

General Industry Update

Craig McMaster noted that industry trends indicate most major theatre companies are still 20-30% below pre-Covid business expectations.

Audience ticket purchasing patterns are continuing to impact our risk profile with certain shows.

Keisha Naidoo asked about people spending post- Covid.

Catherine Cunningham raised the possibility of saturation of musicals as a word of caution. Craig McMaster responded by saying that we have not reached saturation, branded theatre is a balance component of the program to allow for other creative works to proceed.

There was a discussion about the challenges of short-term runs of shows.

Cr Georgina Valjak raised a question regarding attendee vaccination requirements. Craig McMaster replied that Riverside is governed by NSW Health guidelines and policy implemented by Council.

General discussion around the preferences of uplifting versus dramatic productions.

Marwa Abouzeid raised the possibility of focus group surveys on past patrons to understand where the barriers could be that is preventing their patronage.

Craig McMaster stated that a research piece would be undertaken to look at programming and audience behaviour, redevelopment sensitivity, etc.

Dr. Rob Lang mentioned a recent survey undertaken by the Sydney Opera House that would be worthwhile reviewing.

A discussion was had around the planning of Parramatta as a destination and problems of accessibility to Parramatta as being a deterrent to visitors.

Lord Mayor CR Donna Davis suggested utilising technology better to connect with people coming to the Theatres.

MOTION: For the Directors update to be discussed and noted.

The Motion was moved by Chair Naidoo.
The Motion was seconded by Cr Cameron McLean and RESOLVED


AGENDA ITEMS #7: Marketing Update Presentation

Sophie Anderson (Marketing Team Leader)

Marketing Update- Sophie Anderson (Marketing Team Leader)

Key Marketing Highlights

·         Customer satisfaction survey.

The new process was implemented in August 2022.

Strong results Exceeding 85% Satisfaction
A detail review of the report can be found via the Link to Customer Satisfaction

·         New website Development Process was briefed with a goal to implementthe neew website topwarsd the end of Q1 2023.

Relaunch the website with a customer-centric focus/Mobile-first design.

Innovative integration with the ticketing platform.

Review and improvement of accessibility guidelines. CM asked Cr Maclean for a contribution.

Upgrade of ticketing system to a full mobile wallet in phase 2 (mid-year).



AGENDA ITEMS #8: Business and Finance Update

Tanya Sampson (Business Manager, Riverside)


·         October resulted in a 206k deficit against budget expectations of a 248k loss. Reduced spending on Materials and Contracts has contributed to this result.

·         Reforecasting has seen Riverside Theatres achieve a result within expectations for the Year to Date.
Actual YTD 838k deficit VS Forecast YTD 834k deficit.

·         As we move into the second quarter our focus is on reducing employee costs and continuing the review of cost savings across all budgeting streams.



AGENDA ITEMS #9 2023 Program Presentation (moved from item 10 as per request of chair)

Catherine Swallow
(Program Manager Riverside) 




Catherine stated all decisions made around programming are done with a focus on accessibility.

The highlights include but are not limited to:

·         Festival of Sydney

·         Big Nights

·         A major shift in content with mainstage productions coming to Riverside.

Catherine Swallow noted the number of new producers coming to Riverside is exciting and creates new opportunities.

·         World Pride Program

·         NT of P.- Choir Boy

·         K-12 Education

·         Youth Participation

·         Comedy Festival Gala

·         Sunday Music



Unanimous support from all committee members noting the balance and diversity of the program.

John Moore queried the possibility of packaging partnerships with the introduction of longer-running productions and if there was any action on this.

Sophie Anderson responded that there is engagement with some hotels in particular the Novotel, Riverside will be reaching out to other hotels and restaurants in Parramatta.

Dr. Rob Lang spoke about a program offering new productions that will attract new people. Jon Greig that this will assist in changing the perception of Parramatta.

Emphasis is needed on creating a Parramatta experience.

MOTION: For the Riverside Advisory Committee to note their support and comments for the 2023 program.

The Motion was moved by Chair Naidoo. 
The Motion was seconded by Dr. Rob Lang and RESOLVED


AGENDA ITEM #10 Riverside Re-Development Project Update

Craig McMaster


·         Business Case consultant engaged.

·         Riverside redevelopment is a state significant development and once approved by Council the design process will be again.

·         The last version workshop summary is to be presented on 30/11/22.

·         Final Council submission 12/12/22.

·         West invest funding recipient’s announcement 8-9th December 22

Craig McMaster proposed for the Reference Design group to be formed with representatives from the Advisory Committee for comment on the future design brief.

The draft design of the excellence brief is developed by external consultants.

Proposal of 4 members to form a group along with a representation of subject matter experts from Riverside.

(Suggested Marwa Abouzeid, Matthew Lazarus-Hall

Catherine Cunningham, Dr. Rob Lang, Vyvienne Abla

Chair Naidoo suggested the possibility of community-elected representatives.

Jon Greig clarified the process once development is approved by the council:

·         The project lead is handed over to Council Planning Development Team.

·         Craig Mc Master in effect becomes the client.

·         Riverside redevelopment has a substantial benefit, being deemed a State Significant Development.

The question was raised if west invest funding does not come through.

Options include:

·         Philanthropy

·         Other ongoing funding applications.

 Lord Mayor Davis mentioned the success of Creative Arts programs regarding West Invest funding, which is a positive point for Riverside.

MOTION: For the Riverside Advisory Committee to note their support for and the establishment of the Redevelopment Design Reference group and call for representatives.

The Motion was moved by Dr. Rob Lang 
The Motion was seconded by Chairperson Naidoo. RESOLVED



AGENDA ITEM#11 General Business

Craig McMaster


Craig McMaster put forward a proposal for a strategic Planning session with the advisory committee. It is anticipated the session will provide for collaboration and strategic planning and discussion including; 

·         Development of audience strategies and goals.

·         Philanthropy and fundraising strategies.


Craig McMaster suggested that the aim be to schedule the Planning Workshop as early as convenient in Calendar Q1, 2023.



The Director called a motion for the Riverside Advisory Committee to note their comments and support for the establishment of the strategic Planning workshop and for Riverside Management to develop agenda and coordinate the session.

The Motion was unanimously approved by general acknowledgment by the members of the Riverside Advisory Committee and moved as RESOLVED

Meeting Close

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 7.45 pm