Tuesday, January 15, 2018 saw another dream come one step closer to realisation when Steph Cooke MP, the Member for Cootamundra, announced that the Athenium Theatre, through Junee Shire Council, has been granted $626,130 from the New South Wales Government’s Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund to install a commercial kitchen, additional storage, car spaces, signage and information for visitors at the theatre.
Ms Cooke stated “These upgrades will take the theatre beyond a performance venue and make it a coveted events destination and tourism draw card” and that “arts and culture are vital to the health of the community”
Junee Shire Council staff were congratulated on the high quality of the grant application they put together, so much so, that it resulted in been one of only 14 recipients of funding from the RGETF, and were the only successful application from the Cootamundra Electorate.
Junee Shire’s Deputy Mayor, Cr Matt Austin, accepted the cheque on behalf of Junee Shire Council. During his speech acknowledged the efforts of the Friends of the Athenium by stating they “were the people who said things don’t have to be the way that it is” — meaning the Friends had a vision and fought for the heritage of the building, and that the Friends didn’t have to accept that the building was in a state of decay and therefore should be demolished.
Ms Cooke concluded the presentation by also acknowledging the Friends saying “The Friends of the Athenium Theatre are to be congratulated for the work that they have put in over an extended period of time. Now with this grant, we are taking the Theatre to the next level. Working together to get the result at the end of the day.”
Mrs Virginia Stewart, Chairperson of the Friends of the Athenium, later stated “From the beginning, we could see the huge potential of this grand old building, we knew that many other groups were needed to be involved to bring in commercial activity and ensure the viability of the building going forward. Along with a variety of potential uses, that would bring people through the doors, and have them experience culture of various forms, at the same time. Today we have had another injection of funds to ensure that the building will now obtain more usage into the future.”
The NSW Government has invested just short of $1.1 million dollars in the heritage listed Athenium Theatre over the last 12 months, including funding for air-conditioning and heating, a new sound and lighting system, and now the new commercial kitchen and storage.
With the 90th anniversary of the Athenium Theatre occurring later this year, these funds will allow the Theatre to continue to thrive for at least another ninety years.