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Orange council was going to spend $10 million on the new conservatorium. It's now $18.5 million

October 18, 2023

By Peter Holmes

The cost of building the new Orange Regional Conservatorium (ORC) and Planetarium has blown out from $25 million to $33.5 million, and Orange ratepayers and businesses will make up the shortfall.

Originally the $25 million project was to be funded by the federal government ($10 million), the state government ($5 million) and Orange City Council ($10 million).

But council revealed on Wednesday morning that its share would rise by 85 percent, from $10 million to $18.5 million.

Councillors voted to cough up the extra $8.5 million at a closed meeting on Tuesday night.

"Work to build a new home for the Orange Regional Conservatorium and Planetarium is set to begin in the coming months after last night’s Orange City Council meeting agreed to contribute up to $18.5 million to fund a shortfall in grants," said an OCC statement.

Orange mayor Jason Hamling said in the statement he was "proud the council decided to back a project of this scale with benefits that will be felt for decades into the future".

“This is the biggest contribution that council has made to a single project,” Hamling said.

“That’s a sign of how important this project is to the community of Orange. It really is an inter-

generational project that will help shape the culture of Orange into the future. It is a great community education facility to support, with more than 1,400 enrolments and students aged from one year olds [to people] into their 80s.”

Orange City Council’s Conservatorium & Planetarium Community Committee chair, councillor Kevin Duffy, defended the extra $8.5 million investment.

“The community hears from time to time that the council is in good financial shape when it comes to financial measures like the debt service ratio,” Duffy said in the statement.

“The practical value of factors like that really come into their own when we have a major project where we have to match government grants dollar-for-dollar."

Duffy said council will fund the $18.5 million through property sales and loans.

ORC Management Committee chair Pam Ryan said in the statement that "this decision represents an enormous leap forward for the Orange Regional Conservatorium and our vibrant community. It will further strengthen our highly successful programs, ensuring that we continue to nurture and inspire the next generation of musicians".

The first phase of community fundraising coordinated by ORC to fit-out the new facility has raised $900,000 towards a $1.5 million target.


The project includes:

* a 275-seat auditorium (with capacity built in for additional 48 seats or additional stage);

* a 65-seat planetarium auditorium;

* 40 practice studios and rehearsal spaces;

* front and back of house facilities including main lobby, bar and kitchen, office space, amenities and ancillary spaces;

 The meeting awarded the tender to local construction company Renascent, which built the Orange Regional Galley extension, and is building the new Wentworth Golf Club and associated facilities.


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