Cinema calls for community support

The Daylesford Community Theatre is calling on residents throughout the shire to voice their support for the cinema as the group continues discussions with council around a permanent home. 

Theatre president Gina Lyons met with council chief executive Aaron van Egmond last week and agreed the cinema would vacate the Rex by April 30, despite no alternative location for the facility being locked in. 

Ms Lyons said the cinema could be moved sooner if a temporary site could be found for the volunteer-run organisation, however the space would have to meet the specific criteria required for a cinema. 

“We’re very nervous about the situation because there’s a number of sites with potential as a cinema but none are perfect,” Ms Lyons said.  “We will do our best to make anywhere work but our concern is we will lose patronage, which will affect the cinema’s viability.”  

The move comes after the Hepburn Shire purchased the Rex on Vincent Street in August to be the home of the $9.75 million Hub project. 

While the previous owners of the shopping arcade had intended to evict the cinema, the council had previously expressed confidence in keeping the facility within the newly-refurbished hub. 

While council and the theatre group had previously discussed moving the cinema to an alternative part of the Rex where it could be used as a multi-purpose performance space, Mr van Egmond said in January the project needed to be financially viable to hold its place in the Rex.

Ms Lyons said remaining in the Rex was still the preferred option for the group’s 50 members, and urged residents throughout the shire to voice their support for the cinema during the council’s upcoming community consultation sessions, which will inform the council’s four-year plan. 

“(The Rex) is our natural home, it’s a central location and we see lots of benefits of being part of the hub,” Ms Lyons said.  

“This consultation process has come across at a good time because it gives the community a chance to let council know loud and clear how important it is to them.” 

The group will meet with the council on a weekly basis to continue to look into finding a temporary location for the cinema as well as a long-term home for the facility. 

Council had originally said the cinema would be forced to relocate by April 18, but gave the group an extra fortnight to account for school holiday programming. 

In a written statement Mr van Egmond said plans and costings for the Hub were still being finalised.  A decision on whether the cinema would be part of the Rex or if it will need to find another home will follow those costings. 

“Council continues to commit to working with the cinema to find a temporary home,” Mr van Egmond said.