There are hundreds of community centres on Crown reserves. More than just a building on some land, community centres cater to wide range of visitors and activities, meeting the recreational, educational and social needs of local residents.
Learnings from Byron Community Centre
The Byron Community Centre, on Jonson St in Byron Bay, is a community centre building on Crown land. There’s a 248-seat theatre, several large rooms available for venue hire, a kitchen and a cafe.
It hosts drama, music, dance, films and other performances; functions, conferences and workshops; activities such as yoga, tai chi and music classes; and various community services, such as breakfasts, showers, wet weather shelter for homeless people, and work skills programs.
Board member David Sweet shared his insights into managing a Crown land community centre.
"One of the key considerations in operating the Byron Bay Community Centre is getting the balance between providing a high level of community services and maintaining fiscal responsibility and sustainability”, says David.
“Many of the services that we provide, such as meals, support for the homeless and no-interest loans, are for those most disadvantaged in the community. We have to offset that with the significant costs that we incur in running those programs, as well as all the other operational activities of the centre.
“And while we are very fortunate to have world-class acts performing in our state-of-the-art theatre, it is pretty expensive to operate and manage.
“We are consistently challenged by the need to upgrade expensive sound, lighting and projector equipment. These upgrades, and general maintenance of the building, do take a great deal of planning.”
“We are very reliant on volunteers”, says David. “We have been very lucky to have a number of excellent long-term committed volunteers that provide a great deal of stability to the centre.
“Managing the volunteers can be tricky. However, we have a dedicated staff member who is amazing at maintaining those relationships and is able to tailor roles to both attract and retain volunteers. An understanding of what is motivating people to volunteer is critical to our ability to attract and retain our volunteers.”
“We work hard at our finances and reporting systems", says David. "The committee of management meets every month to review the financials of the centre. We have been fortunate to have successive treasurers that continually work to improve our financial reporting systems. The continual work on our reporting systems have almost become a culture at the committee of management level.”
“Unlike many other community centres, we are not wholly reliant on outside funding”, David explains. “However, we do apply for funding grants, and we have also been successful with partnering with local business.
“For instance, we run the very successful Soul Street and First Sun free community events every New Year's Eve in Byron Bay. The aim of those activities is to make the streets of Byron family-friendly during that busy period of the year. For those events, such as the Falls Festival), we have partnered with the local council and local businesses.”
David's top tips for managing a community centre
The bookings board is full!
This Crown land manager web resource was printed on 19 Apr 2021. The information contained in this web resource is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing Apr 2021. However, because of advances in knowledge, users are reminded of the need to ensure that the information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information by referring to the website (www.reservemanager.nsw.gov.au).
© State of New South Wales through Department of Planning, Industry & Environment 2021.
Page link: https://reservemanager.crownland.nsw.gov.au/i-manage-a/surf-life-saving-club