The Liberty Theatre was purchased by Touie and Denise Smith in 2005 with a view to being able to “give something back” to the community of Yass who had supported them during their business life.
A lot of work has already gone into researching a way forward for the Liberty Theatre. Many theatres of similar vintage have been visited, in Australia and abroad. Experts in the fields of movie theatre, live theatre, lighting, stage and audio have visited the theatre and given advice and encouragement.
Many groups have visited the theatre and shared their knowledge and our vision.
Out of all this, the passion and the reality needs to blend to see what is feasible and sustainable to be able to create something that could serve the community of Yass, going forward.
All the work to date has crystallised into a concept of a multi-use facility having movies, live theatre, a restaurant and possibly a wine bar.
It is envisioned that patrons could;
watch a movie,
attend live theatre,
attend a concert
dine and then watch a movie,
dine and then watch live theatre
The options also would exist for a theatre restaurant, conferences and conventions plus events for family and the community.
The possibilities are endless remembering that the Theatre was originally designed to seat 700 people.
In general terms it is proposed that the facility would include a 60 seat restaurant, a 200 seat movie theatre, a 120 seat live theatre, a 400 seat concert theatre and the possibility of a boutique wine bar.
For all this to happen and be successful, the community need to firstly want the facility and secondly give ongoing patronage.
The facility needs to be set up to satisfy community wants and needs plus be flexible for change. It is considered that without community support it won’t work.
Following is a summary of the five business models have been thought about.
1. The physical movie theatre, live theatre, restaurant and wine bar is created and financed by the owner.
The Restaurant is leased to an operator, a community group runs and staffs the movies, live theatre is done by local and invited talent.
The restaurant operator would be the key to co-ordinating his business and the other functions so the patrons would have variety and choice.
2 million dollars of funding set aside for this option plus the ability for Government grants both for the building and community groups working within.
2. Rather than private ownership with the problems of succession planning a community company, say 1000 shares at $2000.00 per share with limited number of shares per shareholder and when selling shares, they would be sold to residents of the Yass Valley.
An elected Board would oversee the development. A public meeting would be organised to gauge response and if all is good, a company would be created, shares sold, a board elected and the project is owned by the shareholders. The owners would sell the theatre for $500,000.00 and give a ten year interest free mortgage bound loan plus all the information, plans etc as a contribution to make it happen plus the offer of further involvement.
3. A 355 Committee is created and Council as Trustee buys the theatre, a board is created and the board then makes it happen. The same $500,000, ten year offer is given by the owners as well as the offer of further involvement.
4. If options 1,2 or 3 don’t happen then the owners could consider renovating the building for retail space and existing theatre upgrade or possibly other options.
5. The owners sell the theatre as a retail site.
Now is time to move forward and create the best facility we can for the people of Yass and district.