Slim Dusty Centre secured as a Kempsey community asset
Published on 18 August 2021
The future of the Slim Dusty Centre as a cultural, community and tourism facility has been secured, with Kempsey Shire Council agreeing to permanently take over ownership and management of the facility.
At Tuesday’s ordinary meeting, Council authorised the General Manager to enter into an agreement with the Slim Dusty Foundation. This agreement will transfer the Slim Dusty Centre buildings and its contents, excluding the Slim Dusty Museum exhibits and memorabilia, to Council for nil cost. It will also empower Council to operate and manage the Centre, including the Museum.
Over the past 12 months, Council has undertaken a due diligence financial review and developed a business plan including options for future events and uses, while temporarily managing the facility.
In reaching their decision, Councillors acknowledged the significant work undertaken by staff in preparing this report as outlined in detail to Councillors by Director of Corporate and Commercial, Stephen Mitchell, and in the publicly available business papers.
Mayor Liz Campbell praised the decision as a major step forward in enabling Council to meet a gap in local cultural and event facilities.
“In the Slim Dusty Centre, Council has been presented with a genuinely unique opportunity to acquire an important cultural and tourism facility for our community which also has a direct link to one of the valley’s favourite sons,” said Cr Campbell.
“It’s important to note that the review and business plan clearly state that we shouldn’t have an expectation that the Slim Dusty Centre will be a profit-making venture. This Centre delivers a fully constructed and established community cultural and event facility, acquired at nil cost, that will meet a need that was previously identified through the Community Infrastructure Strategy."
“This acquisition enables Council to run art exhibitions, music and school events and bring in touring exhibitions as well as opportunities to hire out the spaces for conferences and corporate events as well. I want to thank the Kirkpatrick family and the Slim Dusty Foundation for their help in making this all possible.”
The Slim Dusty Museum will remain a key tourism drawcard for the shire with current visitation estimated at 1000 people a month. The Slim Dusty Foundation have committed to work alongside Council on a curation strategy to review and revive the display.
Speaking to Councillors ahead of the decision, David Kirkpatrick, Chair of the Slim Dusty Foundation, and son of Slim Dusty, complimented Council on the operation of the centre since December last year.
“Many months of discussion and research has gone into an extremely sound proposal ahead of this important decision,” said Dr Kirkpatrick.
“We are so pleased that the heritage of Slim Dusty is secure in the Kempsey Shire. I can reiterate the commitment of our family and the Foundation Board to the ongoing success of the centre through our role in the museum."
“After all the closures and challenges of recent years we are enthused to relaunch the Slim Dusty Festival in 2022, the artists are keen and we’ll bring renewed exhibits and a fresh approach to the museum to help make this Festival a success.”
The Slim Dusty Centre, including the Kempsey Visitor Information Centre, is currently closed due to the public health orders but will reopen under Council management in the near future.
For more information on the centre and tourism in the shire please see the Kempsey Shire Council website.