Byron plan to consider need for arts site


DOES Byron Shire need a dedicated site for live arts?

After years of debate within the community, this question is set to be answered by Byron Shire Council's cultural plan for the next 20 years.

Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham said the council had recently engaged a consultant to carry out an audit of the shire's sporting, artistic and recreational needs.

The appointment follows East Coast Blues & Roots Festival Director Peter Noble's call for the Byron Shire to embrace an arts-based economic future in the region.

Cr Barham said the council had developed a cultural policy which identified the arts and arts-based tourism as a future growth area.

"The cultural plan will now tease out the issues associated with that, such as the economic and employment impacts, the social impacts and the benefits of creating a lively, vibrant culture," she said.

Cr Barham said the cultural plan was expected to be available for public comment by the end of the year.

Mr Noble has employed his own consultants to look at the suitability of a site at Tyagarah for live arts events such as his festival.

Cr Barham supported his action saying that it took some of the burden off the council for private operators such as Peter Noble to pursue the issue.

Cr Barham said she was 'fully aware' other councils in NSW and Queensland were keen to poach the Blues Festival from Byron Shire.

"Part of the debate needs to be about what it would mean to the community to lose these festivals. If we lost one we could lose them all," she said.

But yesterday Queensland Events chief executive Michael Denton denied his organisation had the Blues Fest in its sights.

"Queensland Events is not in discussions with Mr Noble regarding relocation of the festival," Mr Denton said.

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