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Submission for: Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space


Angela Dunstan

SAWTELL, New South Wales


Congratulations on the unveiling of the ‘master plan’ for the Cultural and Civic Space in Coffs Harbour.

I need to be very clear on my 100% support.

I am an artist and an art teacher/tutor in the Coffs area. I support The Coffs Regional Gallery by attending all their exhibitions and share my enthusiasm in the affirmative.
I hope that such a well thought out design will come to fruition.

I have only been living in the Coffs area for 2 .5years (originally from Sydney and the Blue Mountains) and after my move, was shocked to find one of the smallest Regional Galleries in Australia! Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, at present, can only display a small percentage of travelling State and National exhibitions. Grafton Gallery houses the Archibald and most cant travel the distance to view any major exhibitions to Grafton.
The existing space is the size of most Sydney-sider's Lounge/dining rooms!
As an art tutor, I was, and still are, so disappointed that Coffs LGA has no space for accomodating art tutors to teach art classes that coincide with art exhibitions.

The Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space has been needed for some 20 years and for it to have finally come to this stage, is an achievement by the local community.

There has been no plan to centralised the CBD and create a meeting/shopping/ eating/ community central point till now. Coffs is strewn along either side of the highway and totally disconnected. I remember when I moved here asking the locals where the 'main centre' was, and being told 3 different locations! 'Oh, do you mean, the jetty, park beach or coffs central?' This sums up Coffs, disconnected, in infrastructure, and in community.
A loud few businesses and those surrounding them politically, are motivated to vote against this application as the general (and uneducated/misinformed) attitude is.... if the CHCCS is built, in the existing 'Coffs Central' / CBD of Coffs, then some of the trade and tourism will be taken from 'The Jetty Area', which is located in a different area to the Coffs Central - some 3km due east.

Even our local paper The Coffs Advocate, is running biased stories against the application, the most recent being on 5/10/19 with a 1/4 page story implying 'there is deep division' amongst the community, of which there is not. I am concerned that the local majority who would be for the project, are not IT literate and their vote will not be counted. The Advocate is trying to imply to the 'green' voters in the area that the project is funded by a 'fossil fuel lender' in a bid to get the otherwise artistically inclined to vote agaist the project. The Advocate's spin dedicates 90% of it's story against and only the last sentence mentioning ' support or object' hinting that you could actually want the project to go ahead, all other comments are biased against.

Be warned, those who turn their back on creating a meeting point for culture and art, are not supporting a soul for their city. You need to question why for many there is no social cohesion, no passion, no support and no pride for the city of Coffs. Where is the core of Coffs? Where is the village atmosphere? Where is the meeting place? Where is a recognised iconic landmark for tourism? Where is the civic pride? Start creating this urgently needed space sooner than later or watch Artists like myself leave, watch businesses close down, watch investors go elsewhere. Coffs needs to be on the media map and radar for more than traffic bottlenecks and disconnected shopping strips with closed down and run down buildings. Wake up Coffs and catch up. Art and Culture is the glue that holds a community together.

The ‘All Welcome’ schematic design will be a new meeting place of like minded and will breathe much needed life and pride back into central Coffs.

I hope that the local and state government will allow the CHCCS to reach its full vision and not remove anything (due to budget or bias) as it will be a magnificent building as it stands.

Culture and the arts, spaces for children and adults alike, will bring the community together.
Well done and looking forward to meeting with you at the Centre’s various stages of completion.