The show will go on at Star Court

Norpa venues assistant Peter Sandurski and volunteer Yoko Watson on stage at the Star Court Theatre. Norpas first show of the season, Gadgets, opens tonight (Thursday, March 13).

Despite Lismore City Council deciding not to purchase the Star Court Theatre it will be business as usual for Norpa.

Owner of the Star Court, local businessman Nick Volpato, had approached Council with an offer to sell the building, on the proviso Norpa would remain the sole tenant and pay minimal rent.

After much discussion at Tuesday nights meeting, councillors voted unanimously to simply receive and note the offer, in effect refusing to consider the purchase as part of the 2008/09 budget.

Cr Ros Irwin said Council simply did not have the money to make another big purchase.

It might seem like a great idea and its a beautiful building but its an old building with many problems including a lack of disabled access, Cr Irwin said. Without knowing how much more we would have to spend on it and with a return of virtually zero, we must see if theres another way the issue can be dealt with. We cannot give the rate-payers of the future another burden.

Cr David Tomlinson said while Council has a shortfall of more than $2.2 million to keep up the maintenance on sealed roads it simply could not afford to take on more financial risk.

Cr Peter Graham said while the Star Court was a nice old building it was not the sort of investment Council should be making and joked that, until they could turn the CBD into a carpark, he could not support the purchase.

Norpa vice chairman Andrew Binns said he thought Council had missed the chance to do something positive for the arts.

Im disappointed because it was an opportunity for the community to have that space indefinitely, Dr Binns said. Its a missed opportunity to retain a wonderful building for community use.

The Star Court Theatre has wonderful sight lines and is appreciated by the community and performers.

Mr Volpato said that while he had not yet been officially contacted by Council, Norpas future in the theatre was safe.

It was really just to see if Council wanted to take up the opportunity. The theatre is not strictly for sale, Mr Volpato said. I just made the referral to Council to see if they were interested because it would have helped Norpa with funding if Lismore City Council owned the building.

If Council owns the building, as opposed to a private organisation, it assists Norpa in accessing funds from government departments, but it was really just a preliminary discussion.

My family has had this unusual relationship with Norpa for 10 years and I certainly dont want to put any pressure on them.

I have no intention of selling it to anyone else, it was just a discussion with Council.

Im not particularly disappointed. I think they will probably review the idea in the future. Im happy to continue as we are and have Norpa there.

Norpas first show of the season, Gadgets, begins tonight (Thursday, March 13) at the Star Court. For more information see the story on page 24.

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