Meeting Date/Time:

Thursday, 22, 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

Keisha Nadoo


Vyvienne Abla

Jackie Emery

Matthew Lazarus-Hall       

Catherine Cunningham          




Craig McMaster, Director Riverside Theatres

Tanya Sampson, Business Manager


Mike Brew, Operations Manager

Catherine Swallow, Program Manager


Sophie Anderson, Marketing & Communications Team Leader



Lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis, Cr Cameron Maclean





Craig McMaster

of Country

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

The meeting commenced at 5.40pm.


AGENDA ITEMS #2:  Welcome and Apologies

Craig McMaster (Acting Chair)

The Director advised that in the Lord Mayor’s absence he has been delegated to act as Chair.

With quorum present, the Acting Chair opened the meeting and noted the apologies, and welcomed the new 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 of conflict of interest.
No conflicts declared and the results were noted.


AGENDA ITEMS #4Minutes of Meeting 24th Nov 2021


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

MOTION: For the minutes of last meeting to be accepted and approved.

The Motion was moved by Dr Robert Lang. 
The Motion was seconded by John Moore and RESOLVED.



AGENDA ITEMS #5:  Council Executive Team Introduction and Welcome

John Greig (Executive Director, Community Services)

John Greig (JG) welcomed the new and returning Members to the new Advisory Committee.  

JG made comments regarding the role of the Committee, and clarified the distinction between being a member of a committee as opposed to a Director on a Board, with ethe emphasis being that a Committee members bear no fiduciary responsibility of the operations of enterprise.

JG made further comments and encouraged the committee to support, challenge and at times provoke the Riverside leadership team to consider new approaches and ways of doing things.



AGENDA ITEMS #6:  Introductions and Aspirations

All Committee Members and staff in attendance.

All committee members and staff present introduced themselves and spoke about their backgrounds and what has brought them to be part of the committee and made general comments about what the hope to be able to bring to the Riverside Advisory Committee.

The Acting Chair thanked members for their comments and extended and open invitation to contribute to and communicate with the team with any suggestions, advice or questions they may have.


AGENDA ITEMS #7: Election of Chair and Deputy Chair

Craig McMaster
(Acting Chair)

The Acting Chair confirmed that that the Lord Mayor’s office had advised that due to scheduling capacity and the Lord Mayor’s availability, it was felt a Chair should be elected by the Committee Members.

That being noted, that the commencement of the process for election – Nomination forms to be sent out.

MOTION: To commence the process to elect the Chair and Deputy Chair .

The Motion was moved by John Moore. 
The Motion was seconded by Catherine Cunningham and RESOLVED. 


AGENDA ITEMS #8: Directors Update Presentation

Craig McMaster

CM provided a brief overview of Riverside Theatres current operations.

5 key High level focus areas

1.     Focus on “Audience First”

2.     Invest in development of the team

3.     Grow and develop Riverside and its programming

4.     Review Org Design – for best fit 22-23 then transition to closure and reopen 25-26

5.     Continuation and development of concept and business case for redevelopment to achieve approval from council in Q4 ’22.

 CM also provided industry update key points:

-          Return of audiences after disruptive 2 years

-          Impact still affecting ticket sales -25%--30%


-          There was discussion about timing of ticket purchasing habits.

-          CM advised purchasing habits have changed – Tickets are being bought at last moment.

-          Further discussion regarding the impact of Covid.

-          The question was asked as to how far ahead is Riverside Theatres taking booking to? CM advised to May 24.

There was also mention of the Program highlights in particular the success of securing AGT after the loss of a 4-week production- Ghost Stories venue hire

CM spoke about people development and team engagement and participation in Evolve Leadership program.

Staff engagement – last yr 46%

This year 61% goal – 70 % by end of 23. It is noted this I s the highest growth in all of council.

Operations Initiatives - Mike Brew (Operations Manager)

MB advised the steps being taken by Riverside Theatres to address sustainability footprint by reducing electrical costs.

-          Applied for Capital Equipment grant – currently lodged with Create NSW.

-          Front of house and Bar Upgrades update.

-          Per capita spend to record reach at $10.50 during Kinky Boots season.

-          Per patron up from average of $3.60 last year. Total average goal is $6.80

Marketing Update- Sophie Anderson (Marketing Team Leader)

Key Marketing Goals

-          Increase customer engagement from 35-40k.

-          Improve digital marketing capabilities.

-          Paid membership relaunch – currently app 900 members.


A copy of the presentations is accessible for Committee Member reference via link:


AGENDA ITEMS #9 Budget Overview

Craig McMaster
(Director) and

Tanya Sampson (Business Manager)

Riverside Theatres is a supported operating business unit investment by for the cultural well-being and development of the City.

-          Council provides Financial and operational services support for Riverside to benefit the wider community and city economy. 

-          2022/23 Budget is for $2.972m support investment by Council.

-          Community Services Directorate goal is to “Build Back Better in 2022-23”, with the key financial objective being to return to a pre-Covid programming and financial results.

-          Our target is driven by a greater emphasis on commercial programming and venue hire, and significant enhancement and growth in ancillary income through Bar and Technical Income.


AGENDA ITEM #10 Program Update

Catherine Swallow
(Program Manager Riverside) 

Joanne Kee 
(Executive Producer NTofP)


Overview presentations of the upcoming program for

a.     Riverside Theatres 2022/23

b.     National Theatre of Parramatta Program 2022/23

CS spoke about the “Audience first” – in all that we do to deliver the best possible experience – the link of Venue hires, Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta and Hirer Presentation are interconnecting teams.

CS gave examples of the variety of groups utilising Riverside Theatres.

There was discussion that more diversity is needed to invite people to use space.

JK spoke about NTofP established in 2015 for the purpose of creating opportunity for Western Sydney Actors and Creatives.

Funding is sourced through numerous ways, philanthropy and seeking State and Federal government grants.

Choir Boy – secured for Australian Premiere, part of “World Pride “received 350k grant to produce from “Rise” a federal government funding initiative.

General discussion was held regarding obstacles to receiving funding due to the nature of being part of council.

JG revisited the budget and reminded the committee of comparing to other models.

A question was raised about the redevelopment, Business case shows level of investment to decline from council in the future.

Spend in in Riverside is a contributor to multiplier effect on the overall businesses in Parramatta.




AGENDA ITEM#11 Riverside Development Concept Proposal

Craig McMaster

JG. Advised the redevelopment is a council led initiative. Funded partially by the sale of land where Powerhouse is being built.

Project is at reference design currently. The reference design proposes an increase in capacity to 2610 seats (+245%).

Currently the budget estimate based on the reference design is $174.5M.

A grant application and business has been submitted to West Invest for funding to cover shortfall of $40m.

If unsuccessful, an alternative plan is being developed based on a combination of philanthropy and additional government funding through lobbying and advocacy.

The upcoming NSW State election was mentioned as a key leveraging event for the funding requests with the focus on Western Sydney being a key election issue.

The question was raised about plans for a transitional strategy, alternate venues etc.

CM acknowledged the query and requested that the question be taken on notice and committed to present the alternates when the Business Case and funding matters have been resolved, the project fully ‘green lit’ and the project timings locked in.



The Director called a motion for the Riverside Advisory Committee to note their comments and support for the concept proposal.

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



AGENDA ITEM#12 General Business

Craig McMaster (Acting Chair)

CM provided general over view and discussion regarding upcoming events and shows.

JG reminded all committee members that all meeting information is strictly in confidence, in particular the Riverside Redevelopment design and program.

There was discussion due to the nature of the information shared, should the committee members sign a confidentiality agreement? It was acknowledged that there is a reference to confidentiality in the “Code of Conduct “document which adequately sets out the requirements and behaviours for Advisory Committee Members.

CM advised that the next meeting of the Riverside Advisory Committee would be held on Thurs 17 November at 5.30pm

CM thanked everyone for their attendance, participation and contributions and there being no further business, declared the meeting closed.