Old Katoomba Library

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Consultation has concluded.

Conversion of former Katoomba Library to Katoomba Community Hall

Recent interest from the performing arts community has prompted a review of the existing design for the conversion of the former Katoomba Library to a Community Hall, particularly, the internal fit out and finishes. You are invited and encouraged to view the preliminary designs and to have your say on the future use of the Katoomba Civic Centre.

Conversion of former Katoomba Library to Katoomba Community Hall

Recent interest from the performing arts community has prompted a review of the existing design for the conversion of the former Katoomba Library to a Community Hall, particularly, the internal fit out and finishes. You are invited and encouraged to view the preliminary designs and to have your say on the future use of the Katoomba Civic Centre.

Guest Book

Please provide constructive comments on the preliminary designs for the future use of the former Katoomba Library.

Consultation has concluded.
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I agree with previous comments about the need for a theatre space as large as possible, and with tiered seating (at least the back half or two thirds of the space). Tiered seating would ensure resonable views for all people, children could see, and it would ensure the audience have a "theatre" experience as opposed to "a performance in a community hall" experience. The roof beam and partition mid way would seem to hinder any use of the full space and I would prefer to see them deleted from the design.

cucv333 over 11 years ago

Let me put my submission in context. I have been involved in theatre lighting, production management, venue creation and management for 30 years. I can supply these credentials if required.

I am in favour of the Hollywood plan as a way of moving forward, but I think it needs refining.

In particular, I think attention needs to be paid to removing the existing beams in the roof of the space in order to achieve more height. This will allow for the tiered seating to go higher and hopefully increase the seating capacity. I think it would be very important for the future financial viability of the venue for the seating capacity of the venue to be at least 200 seats and hopefully 240.

In my producing experience, anything under 200 seats is a "hobby" theatre. It would be good if the venue could eventually support itself and not rely heavily on government funds for its continued existence.

I think some sort of technical consultant needs to engaged to fit out the technical needs of the theatre. A lighting control console, audio mixing desk, amplifiers, sound equalisers, multicore looms for the lighting instruments need to be specified. A lighting grid needs to installed to cover traditional lighting positions of multiple front of house bars, keylight, toplight, backlight and side light.

The backstage/dressing rooms need to installed in the old "meeting rooms" space in order to reduce the current backstage area in order to increase the size of the stage. A toilet and shower backstage is required by law. I suggest the stage be made up of modular movable stage pieces than can be moved into different configurations such as no stage, catwalk, normal stage, etc

I sincerely hope this moves the process forward.


Adam Q over 11 years ago

I was involved many years ago with the long-lived amateur community theatre group The Castle Hill Players and since then I have studied, performed, written for and enjoyed theatre of all kinds. I believe the creation of a workable theatre/performance space in Katoomba will be a great boon to the economic and cultural life of the community and townships in the upper mountains.

The space should be multifunctional - ie be suitable for multiple live performance uses (music, dance, comedy, cabaret, theatre, lectures etc) but the bottom line is it must function well as a theatre space for audience and performers.W.hich is why I strongly support the Hollywood proposal over the original jdh proposal

This simple but workable approach suits the needs of both professional companies and performers as well as local amateur groups and offers optimal audience capacity, comfort and appeal. The Pavilion in Castle Hill - a similar theatre space with tiered seating, dressing room and lobby/bar- is now in its 44th year of continuous and successful operation. It can and must be done!

julian l over 11 years ago

The new Blue Mountains Cultural Centre has certainly 'raised the bar' as far as public facilities in Katoomba. It is therefore vitally important that the conversion of the old library is up to that standard. David Hollywood's new design is first class & has certainly genuinely stimulated the imagination of the arts (& broader) community in the Upper Mountains. The Katoomba Chamber of Commerce & Community certainly support & look forward to David's re-vamped design being fully implemented, & hope that BMCC do as well. David & fellow volunteers should be congratulated on their efforts. Its great to feel a such a positive vibe in Katoomba.

KCCC over 11 years ago

Katoomba is at a point where revitalization is essential and the new Cultural Precinct is underway, and this includes the entire Civic Centre. Katoomba requires both planned and pop-up spaces to fully revitalise its dead areas. The Library conversion should support multi-disciplinary performance practice. How can it be a rainy-day space whilst rehearsals are in progress? Rather than discuss staging and fixed orientation, I propose a full-area sprung plywood floor as a low-cost, durable and low-maintenance solution. This is how CarriageWorks in Sydney is fitted out. With no back-stage, the playable area is everywhere. Rather than fixed seating, moveable seating banks will allow for multiple configurations, and an overhead grid will support all lighting configurations.
A space that showcases performances also needs to facilitate the making of that work. The performance and theatre artists of the region are an asset and a resource, not a self-interest group. Katoomba could be considered a model for Mountains Communities and a place of exchange, which I hope will increase not only its tourism appeal, but also its kudos and reputation for vision. Before talking of tourism, we should plan an energisation of the township from within. Increasing the cultural facilities and artists’ opportunities is part of this scheme.
I am sending a fuller submission of recommendations to Council for consideration.

Alan Schacher
Inter-disciplinary performing arts practitioner.

AlSeeum over 11 years ago

A professionally designed and functional performance space would be such an asset to the mountains and to Katoomba in particular. As other commentators have already mentioned however, the space must 'work' effectively for the performers in order for the audience to gain the full benefits of the performance.

And please...........can we do something to get rid of the 'public toilet' facade on Katoomba Street?? It always looks appalling. With modern building techniques and a bit of imagination, we could surely do a lot better.

mtnsblue over 11 years ago

There is a 3d fly through of the alternative Hollywood proposal (just the auditorium). It would not require any alteration to the existing ceiling beams as the bio box wall would sit directly underneath. Here is the link to the fly through.


out of the blue over 11 years ago

Key Comments & Questions raised at the Public Meeting on 14 November 2012 and the Open House on 19 November 2012 are now available in the Library. In addition to a variety of comments, an alternative venue plan provided by an interested resident is also included in this document.

You are encouraged and invited to view this document and to have your say on the preliminary design for the former Katoomba Library by Sunday 25 November 2012.

Please make a comment in the guestbook below.

Thank you for your input and contributions so far.

Helen Halpin, Admin Officer, Built Assets, BMCC

HHbmcc over 11 years ago

As previously commented ,the proposal put forward by Council & JDH is in my opinion, untenable as a performance space & I support the alt David Hollywood plan for adoption by council.
It addresses many of the issues I outlined & allows for the communitty to contribute to a sustainable & growing space .
I believe the fine detail can be worked out at a later stage but as a proposal it is leaps & bounds over the JDH prpoposal while still fullfilling the Council outline & is budget concious.
Chris D

Chris D over 11 years ago

I heartily endorse the Hollywood plan as being infinitely more workable than the previous effort. The only suggestion I would make is that were there a stage of even 200mm height, it would radically affect site-lines, and may allow for an extra row of seating and less-steep tiers, eliminating the head-height problem (and expense) in the back row.

JShand over 11 years ago

As mentioned at the recent meetings held to review these proposed plans, the suggested fit-out may try to provide a multi-purpose venue, but it will certainly not provide a suitable venue for performance work of any real quality. The plan to allow more light into the hall by large glazing to Katoomba St is a disaster. The stage area is basically unusable; a light ceiling is the last thing required. The present baffled ceiling, if painted black, would work well and provide concealment for lighting bars.
Please consider the revisions suggested in the plans by Architect/Actor, David Hollywood. The Hollywood plan would still allow for flexible use of the space and provide a much needed genuine performance space for Katoomba.
Dr Peter Shepherd
Arts Consultant and Musical Director

Peter over 11 years ago

I would like to commend Council for their pro-active response to the community's call for a performing arts space in Katoomba and the subsequent review of the Katoomba Library conversion. I recognise that this development must meet the needs of multiple community groups and think it is important to note that a performing arts space benefits more than just performing arts groups. Our community stands to benefit through increased cultural engagement, tourism, civic pride and the boost that this venue will provide to local businesses, especially restaurants, bars and cafes.

As a teacher and parent, I have spoken to numerous people about this proposal and support for reviewing the conversion to accommodate a performing arts space is overwhelmingly positive. The excitement of parents is two-fold: the prospect of accessing regular performances for children is a great leap forward for this community, as is the notion of being able to see 'grown-up' theatre locally - logistics such as distance and babysitting make this an all too rare luxury for most.

I have seen, and am very supportive of, the proposal put to Council by David Hollywood. The current draft plan held by Council presents many obstacles to performance but the revised Hollywood version addresses these effectively and economically and presents a theatre that can be used by touring and local companies alike. The suggestion that perhaps the project is undertaken in stages and the community be given the opportunity to fund raise and assist in the creation of a viable venue is one I heartily endorse. Getting the refurbishment right the first time is essential and far more important that having a finished but not quite right venue that doesn't properly meet the needs of any of the stakeholders.

This is a very exciting prospect for Katoomba and the greater Blue Mountains and I thank Council for the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

Georgia over 11 years ago

A performing arts venue at Katoomba would be wonderful then those of us who live in the mid- mountains could go up or down the mountains to see live performances! BMCC thank you for giving residents the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Sharon over 11 years ago

I think using the old library as a dedicated performance space is a wonderful idea. Currently, trips to the theatre for many Mountains residents are limited due to the logistics of having to travel so far (Penrith, Parramatta, or Sydney), and I'm sure many of the local performance companies would relish the chance to widen their venue options.

I notice one of the other respondents has given some technical feedback, and I hope this, and other comments from people with insde knowledge of behind-the-scenes theatre operatons, will be incorporated into the final plan so that the Mountains community will not end up with a White Elephant.

I'm sure this will be a wonderful addition to the Mountains art community, especially alongside the new Cultural Centre.

Melanie over 11 years ago

It's wonderful to have the opportunity to comment on this exciting project.
I would very much like to see the building utilised as a dedicated performance space and designed appropriately. It's proximity to the new Cultural Centre; which doesn't provide a space for live theatre, and to the centre of the town, make this an ideal location.
As could be seen from the recent meeting there is a great deal of energy and enthusiasm amongst the local theatrical and theatre minded population which can be usefully directed to assist the successful completion of the project. I feel another generic community hall will simply become another under used public space instead of the centre of a vibrant, thriving arts community.

Anton Curnow over 11 years ago

Firstly congratulation on BMCC for engaging with the community on this project. I know it's been a long time in the planning (15 years since the charette) but much has changed in that time.

There is a real need for a well designed performance space in Katoomba. Not only can such a space be utilised by the hundred of performing artists, producers, directors, set builders, lighting designers, sound engineers and writers that live here in the Blue Mountains but the space can provide a opportunity for workshops and classes for everyone from toddlers to seniors. The space will become a parents saviour during the school breaks and rainy days with classes and performances designed to entertain and educate. The space will inject much needed culture and nightlife into the Upper Mountains with everything from guests speakers to musicians to theatrical performances and classic films on show.

The current design falls well short of fullfilling this vision. With no fixed seating and 5 huge windows looking over Katoomba street the space could never be used for theatrical shows or film screenings. The lack of toilet facilities in the green room means a performer would need to run out into the foyer to use the facilities that the audience is using.

The performing arts community has put together an alternative design for this space that will allow a vast range of uses. Fixed, raked seating for 145 people and a large performance space of 10m x 10m means means a larger variety of uses can be accomodated. Costs can be minimised by not installing a sprung dance floor which will require constant maitenance and repair but instead keeping the concrete floor as is and using a portable dancefloor and a module staging system.

This project is a important part of Katoomba's revitalisation and resurgence. I urge BMCC to take the communities views on board and work closely with the parties that will utilise this space the most.

Michael Brischetto
Co-owner The Carrington Hotel
Vice-Chair Blue Moutnains Tourism Limited
Director Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise
President Winter Magic Organising Committee

Michael Brischetto over 11 years ago

As an experenced Theatrical Lighting Board Operator/Designer , I see a few flaws with the draft plans provided.
The single Lighting bar ,I assume is unwired . So cabling would have to be run discretly to a point backstage to hired-in Dimmer racks which do not seem to have any provision for placement or 3 Phase Power.
There is also no provision for any Stage Overhead bars. If hired-in , this would require the use of Winchup trees & truss ,limiting the stage space even further.
There seems to be no provision for Sound system ,so this also ,I assume would have to be hired-in. The placement of Amp racks on stage & speaker cabinets in front of the stage area in ailses would similarly limit its sightlines & stage width.
In the rear corner of the auditoruim is a patch for Audio- Visual & Lighting.This would either be a RJ45 ethernet connection or a DMX link.
If so it would terminate on stage somewhere not identified to link into hired-in racks, as stated before ,unpowered by 3Phase.
The suggested control position , in the ailse, also seems problematic . If a dual-use function with separation is envisaged , you have a sensitive cable running thru the 1st part of the venue. If used in a full room function you have a technical postion isolated in a back corner potentally blocking ailses & egress with no communication to the backstage area.
This communication as well as a Sound Multicore would have to be hired-in & laid thru audience traffic areas.
Equipment wise I would assume that the Cultural Center ,Wenty School of Arts & Springwood would be sharing equipment ?
If not ,then the required hire-in to to make this venue operational with the sightline & stage space restrictions this imposes would seem to limit the usefullness of this venue to little more than a meeting room arrangement ,not a theatrette as envisionage,hence the need for a FOH lighting bar postion would be deemed useless.But the lack of Power & equipment provisioning space would make sense.
I understand ,from the (Low key promoted)public meeting which I did not attend,the architect used the SOH Utzon Room as a guide. If so he was completely unaware of the Technical Infrastructure that is contained within this space to enable its many & varied uses. A space I am very familar with.

Chris D over 11 years ago