Kempsey Cinema - Frequently asked questions

Updated 31 March 2018

Why is Council contributing to the cinema?

The reason Kempsey doesn’t currently have a large, modern cinema complex is that our base population is not large enough to justify, on a purely commercial basis, the high start-up cost of construction.

The economic and social boost provided by a modern, purpose-built cinema complex within the Kempsey CBD fits the vision of a vibrant and sustainable future for Kempsey after the bypass and is the reason Council was able to attract $2m in Australian Government support.

Council’s $2m contribution to the cinema project is one of the many ways Council supports the local business community, and individual businesses. The saleyards facility directly benefits local stock and station agents. The Macleay Valley Food Bowl program provides local agribusinesses with a commercial advantage in the marketplace. The 2015 moratorium on developer contributions for residential subdivision and dwelling developments in Kempsey and Frederickton provides a direct financial benefit to developers.

These initiatives are all in addition to the basic roads, rates and rubbish core business of Council. They aren’t legally required services for local government to perform but activities like this are undertaken by most Council organisations to create opportunities, stimulate the economy and give people reasons to live and work in the area.

Where has council’s $2m contribution come from?

Council’s $2m contribution will come from existing funds that are held in reserves and don’t have any restrictions on how they are used.

A significant part of these funds came from previous sales of unused assets and property, which was put away for future use that would assist the economic and social growth of the area.

Do any of the councillors have anything personal to gain?

No Kempsey Shire Council elected representative has declared an interest, commercial or otherwise, in the Kempsey Cinema development. If an interest existed, that Councillor would not be permitted to vote on any resolution of Council relating to the cinema.

What are the major benefits of having a cinema in town?

A commercial cinema complex in the Kempsey CBD will provide an economic boost to the centre of our Shire’s largest town and create a social hub. Consumer benefits include:

  • Travel time, safety and cost. Kempsey Cinema will save most residents up to 25-30 minutes of travel time to their next closest cinema complex to see the latest releases. This will be safer due to no highway driving.
  • Sessions per week will be greatly increased from the Bandbox option (when operational), with 160 screenings per week, and up to 24 per day.
  • A huge range of movies. The Majestic experience targets all demographics at the same time, rather than just one movie at a time. This will include up to 12 different pieces of content per week.
  • The presence of a Majestic cinema complex in Kempsey opens up new fundraising opportunities for local schools and not-for-profits. Majestic currently provides almost $100,000 worth of fundraising/funding/sponsorship across the Mid North Coast each year.
  • Macleay Valley youth will have a new entertainment option which will provide coordinated activities for young people every day.
  • Around $250,000 in local wages will be paid to young people each year, with career development opportunities in business management and entertainment.
Why not renovate the Bandbox?

In the early stages of planning for this project, Council investigated a range of potential locations and spoke with the property owners. The Bandbox Theatre was visited by industry representatives for technical and commercial compliance. The advice received was that this site was not commercially viable for a large-scale cinema complex development, due largely to its location.

If Council went against this advice and continued to pursue the development of a commercial cinema complex at the Bandbox site, it would be doing so without the $2m Australian Government grant, and without more than $2.15m in private investment from Gowing Bros. It would not be viable and Council would lose the opportunity to facilitate a significant $6.15m development for Kempsey.

Three different economic assessments of this development show significant flow-on benefits to the local economy over and above this $6.15m investment. This includes 16 full-time jobs and an additional $2.3m into the local economy during construction, 22,000 extra tourists into the Kempsey CBD each year, and an additional $22.6m into the local economy over 20 years.

Council’s $2m contribution to the new cinema complex in the Kempsey CBD does not prevent Council from also making improvements to the Bandbox in future years so that it can continue to be utilised by Kempsey Singers and potentially other community groups.

Can the venue be used for anything else?

Majestic Cinemas have advised that their cinemas, with high quality digital picture and sound technology, are often used for a variety of purposes other than showing movies publicly, including private and community-driven screenings, charity fundraisers, corporate presentations and training. With the addition of a small stage, as Majestic have at a number of their sites, live comedy and musical shows can also be run on a regular basis, adding to the cultural vibrancy of Kempsey. Council has also negotiated use of the facility up to 10 times a year for community and corporate events.

Will my rates go up because of the investment by Council in the cinema?


What other costs will Council face?

Under the Voluntary Planning AgreementCouncil will provide a one-off contribution of $2m towards the project, which will be matched by the Australian Government’s $2m grant and upwards of $2.15m investment by Gowing Bros Limited and a $150,000 investment by Majestic. In the latest designs for the complex, Majestic’s investment has risen to $400-$500,000 on top of Gowings’ $2m.

Gowings will be responsible for constructing and fitting out the cinema and for formally engaging the cinema operator. Council will not face any ongoing costs or financial risks from construction estimates or delays.

How do Council make sure the community benefits from investing in this facility?

Council has negotiated additional terms in the draft Voluntary Planning Agreement to secure additional public benefits. Gowings, as the developer, will have to ensure Majestic:

  • Makes the cinema available to Council as a community space up to 10 times per year.
  • Provides a high-quality community noticeboard in the foyer area.