Wollongong venues to get one manager

Wollongong City Council is set to merge management of the town hall and Illawarra Performing Arts Centre under a plan to cut costs and make both venues more efficient.

In a report to be considered by councillors next week, staff have recommended IPAC Limited - which runs the performing arts centre - also manage the town hall for the next 3½ years.

A similar proposal was first mooted by the council's citizens panel, which said $50,000 a year could be saved by the integrated venue management.

Since its $5.4 million upgrade in 2010, the town hall has been run by Sydney company Pegasus.

However, in December last year, the firm was told its contract would not be renewed past May 31.

Council staff propose the installation of IPAC Limited as managers from June, saying this will strengthen the new arts precinct, as well as deliver operational savings and "economies of scale".

"The integration of the gallery, town hall, IPAC, library and public space including laneways is an important element in the activation of the precinct and maximisation of the council's investment," the report to council said.

"The effective planning, development and co-ordination of cultural programming can be better achieved via this proposal."

The plan will also allow greater flexibility between the two venues and ensure "ongoing affordable access for community users".

The report said council hopes to skip the usual tender process for appointing new managers, saying it should be exempt from the process due to extenuating circumstances, including recent market testing and the IPAC's commitment to deliver free and subsidised events.

A transition plan for future bookings and existing town hall users will be put in place after councillors vote on the recommendations at Monday's meeting.

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