NORPA artistic director Julian Louis finds himself on the wrong side of barriers blocking off entry to the! hail and rain-!dama
NORPA artistic director Julian Louis finds himself on the wrong side of barriers blocking off entry to the! hail and rain-!dama

Rain damage forces closure of City Hall

By ANDY PARKS andy.parks@northernstar.com.au LISMORE City Council has been forced to close the City Hall until at least February next year, throwing a number of local dance productions into chaos.

But NORPA doesn't mind. Artistic director Julian Louis says the closure was happening at the best possible time because Christmas was 'a quiet time of year' for them.

"No NORPA shows have had to be cancelled, but many outside hirers have been affected," he said.

The building received major damage to its asbestos roof and many of its windows in the October 9 hailstorm, but was given the all-clear a week later.

But according to council asset manager Scott Turner, heavy rains since have caused further problems with the roof, resulting in substantial water damage to carpets, ceilings and internal fittings.

HSC examinations at the hall were not interrupted. "The City Hall holds up to 680 people so it's a real loss. It's such a historical building and it even has a kind of funky d?cor," Mr Louis said.

He said NORPA staff were working with groups and individuals who had hall bookings to help them find alternative venues, including the Star Court Theatre and the Lismore Workers Club.

"Community social groups for the elderly and karate classes will also have to be moved or cancelled, which is sad," Mr Louis said.

NORPA has moved its office to the old council chambers in Molesworth Street, and its box office to the Star Court Theatre, for the duration of the closure.

"We are hoping it will be business as usual when we open for the start of the 2008 season in February," Mr Louis said.

Mr Turner said the closure was regrettable at this busy time of year, but that public safety was the first priority for the council in these situations.



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