Crystal clear audio and a long-overdue technical upgrade for the Byron Theatre

Our beloved Byron Theatre recently upgraded their cinema screen and speaker system with new state-of-the-art digital audio and visual equipment. This technical upgrade was long overdue as most touring shows expect digital desks for all operations and the theatre was still using analogue components.

We received $200,000 grant funding through the NSW Department of Industry

The technical upgrade was possible through grant funding by the NSW Department of Industry Infrastructure Grant (Clubgrants Category 3) by the Office of Responsible Gambling. The grant funding amount was $200,000. After much professional research on the sound requirements for the space, installation of the new equipment started in January 2020 and was completed two months later in March. All equipment was purchased and installed by local company North Coast Events who have been an awesome long-term supporter of the Byron Theatre and an absolutely fabulous industry partner. 

“This grant has given the theatre an urgently needed technical upgrade that means that we haven’t just met contemporary expectations, we’ve surpassed them,” says Jamie Hunter, who is the new Technical Manager at the Byron Theatre. Jamie was instrumental in the final completion of the audio and video installation. 

“I’m very excited about what the future holds for the theatre, now that the standard of our technical production has been so radically improved. This grant has given the Byron Shire community, its visitors and our performers and artists the modern theatre experience they deserve and raises the bar for regional arts,” he adds.

State-of-the-art audio & visual equipment and local expertise

It took Byron Theatre management nearly 2.5 years to research, purchase and complete the project due to the intimate nature of the space and the intricate and delicate sound issues the Byron Theatre technicians are facing. 

“We needed to purchase audio equipment that would work for all the different events that we host in the theatre, so there was much time-consuming research done with professional consultants from all areas of the entertainment industry,” says Tanja Greulich, Manager of the Byron Theatre. 

“The need to replace the cinema screen to an acoustically transparent screen was unexpected, but has certainly made a huge difference to the space and is a crucial factor in the delivery of the overall exceptional sound experience,” she adds.

The Byron Theatre is ready to host your event!

The Byron Theatre is a local not-for-profit venue and part of the Byron Bay Community Associations social enterprise model. As such, funds raised by the Byron Theatre through tickets sales are used for essential projects and services that benefit the local community, e.g. the weekly Homeless Breakfast and Homeless Showers. 

“The new technical upgrade elevated the Byron Theatre to a high technical standard that is now acceptable for national and international artists and touring companies. We hope that the new crystal clear audio and visual experience will result in more bookings in the future to entertain our local audience & generate funds for our community outreach projects.  Hopefully, we’ll see the space buzzing with shows again very soon, when it’s safe to do so” Tanja Greulich adds. 

The upgrade in more detail for our tech aficionados

  • An Allen & Heath SQ7 audio console, with digital stage boxes run via a Dante network. 
  • Turbosound IP3000 left, right & centre column arrays plus a subwoofer, configurable into several positions depending on the type of events eg film, dance, conference.
  • 4 Turbosound IP300 surround speakers for Dolby (or better sound immersion for music)
  • 3 Turbosound IP300s, left, right & centre for the balcony level.
  • 4 Turbosound floor monitors for fold back 
  • 6 Sennheiser digital wireless microphones
  • An acoustically-transparent projection screen, meaning that the speakers can be positioned behind an accurate Dolby surround sound is achieved. 
  • A full HD matrix HDMI video switcher, for mixing computer graphics with live video from cameras, plus the cabling infrastructure to send and receive signals from various areas of the theatre, and then to the projector itself of course.

Happy 10 year anniversary, Cherie!

Cherie, community programs manager

As you all know, Cherie is our amazing Community Programs manager, and she’s celebrating 10 years at the Community Centre this year!

Thank you, Cherie

Cherie oversees a magnitude of programs including the Byron Shire Volunteer Hub, the Seniors’ programs, the BCC reception and the Rough Sleepers Projects which include the Severe Wet Weather Shelter, the Byron Shire Showers Project and the Homeless Breakfast Hub.

Cherie, we love you and want to THANK YOU for everything you do every day in the Community Centre and for the Byron Community.

Cherie’s story

In December 2019, I was one of 37 who applied for the 10 hours a week job as Volunteer Coordinator, one of 5 to get an interview and one of 3 to have a trial with front reception extraordinaire Trish Denoon. I got the job. 

When Paul told me over the phone and asked what days I wanted to work, I wasn’t sure and he said “Well we can work it out later, as long as you are happy Cherie, we will be happy!” No employer had ever said that to me before. I’ve been pretty happy ever since.

The position was bumped up to 15 within 6 months and once the Volunteer Hub was formed in 2014, went up to 20 hours per week. With changes to funding and staffing, community programs were added to my responsibilities in 2018. The volunteer workforce at the centre has been an extraordinary phenomenon and for those staff who have the ability to coordinate and work with volunteers on a daily basis, their work is greatly enhanced. I’ve always said that “The volunteers make me look good” and I stick by that!

I signed my employment contract in early February 2010, so the actual anniversary has slipped by, but Pippy assures me there will be a party to celebrate all of the long-timers at the centre (eg Carl Taylor, Majida, Shamana, Surati, Jeannie to name a few). I particularly want to thank Pippy for all her support and commitment throughout the years as both a volunteer and staff.

Byron Community Pantry

The Byron Community Pantry is a Food Outreach Service made possible by Allygroup’s generous donation. The Byron Community Centre has been offering food outreach services for over 14 years. Due to the current health crisis and the new regulations which resulted in job loss for many Byron Shire locals, the demand for essential services like counselling or help with meals and groceries has drastically increased. 

About the project

Byron Emergency Pantry

The Byron Community Pantry is available to anyone unable to financially or physically shop. Food boxes can be provided with vegan, vegetarian and meat options to all people in need.

For this service, the Byron Community Centre receives hands-on support from Liz Jackson and her team from Liberation Larder. Moreover, the Byron Community Centre continues the great work of the Northern Rivers Pantry Project. 

Liz Jackson manages the food preparation including the management of cooks, staff and purchasing of packaging. Helen Hamilton, President of the Byron Bay Community Association, is initially coordinating this effort together with Byron Community Centre staff. The Byron Community Centre provides staff to assist with phone enquiries, food packaging and some volunteers for deliveries and administrative tasks.

Supporters and donors

Amrita Pantry Porject

We want to thank the businesses and organisations in Byron Bay and everyone who generously donated to the Byron Community Pantry. Your donations help us to support vulnerable community members.

First National Byron donated $3000 to this project and their staff are volunteering to be delivery drivers. Thank you so much for your support! You are amazing!!

Volunteers from the Byron Bay Amma group and the Amrita Pantry Project are contributing a generous amount of food and essentials as well as packing and delivering food boxes every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month. Thank you very much for your generous support, it is much appreciated.

Other major donors:

How to arrange delivery

If you would like to contact the Byron Community Pantry for food delivery in the Byron Shire, call 0482 787 552 between Monday – Thursday from 10am – 2pm to arrange delivery. 

Donate today

Support this essential service with a donation and help us help the community.

  • Byron Community Pantry

    Thank you for donating to the Byron Community Centre.  We appreciate your contribution.
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  • Free phone counselling for Byron Shire residents

    Phone counselling

    In a previous post, we mentioned that we recently received generous financial support from Allygroup, a legal resourcing and management consultancy.

    We are grateful for this incredible contribution because it enables us to continue and expand our essential community services during these challenging times when most of our usual income streams have ceased, and community members are heavily impacted by the current health crisis.

    About the service

    Thanks to the generous donation by Allygroup, we are able to offer free phone counselling for locals experiencing distress due to COVID-19 pressures. This service is carried out by a psychologist and 4 trained, experienced counsellors for the next 3 months.

    A psychologist will initially triage and assess new calls and if appropriate, refer the caller to one of the counsellors. Counselling calls will last for 50 – 60 minutes and if needed, future support calls will be organised by each counsellor. All counsellors are qualified and covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance.

    This service is available to Byron Shire residents during weekdays between 10am – 2pm. 

    Get in touch

    If you have concerns for your mental health during this difficult time, we encourage you to make use of our free phone counselling service.

    Call 0415 322 064 from Monday – Friday between 10am – 2pm to make an appointment.

    A generous donation of $30,000 from Allygroup

    Today, we want to share some very exciting news with you. We just received generous financial support for our community programs which are currently impacted by COVID-19 and aimed at the most vulnerable members of the Byron community. 

    Allygroup is a legal resourcing and management consultancy and they are generously donating $10,000 per month over the next three months to help us to expand our existing services to meet urgent additional demand caused by the Novel Coronavirus. 

    The current health crisis has impacted many people in the community severely as work has stopped and businesses have closed. As a result of this, our community project workers have identified an increased demand for essential community services such as counselling or help with meals and groceries. 

    Allygroup’s Chairman, Bruce Clarke is a Byron Shire resident and says “I was confronted directly by the hardship of so many people through the impacts of COVID-19. I know the Byron Community Centre has its finger on the pulse of what the needs of the community are and we are pleased to contribute towards helping the mental health physical health of those who most need support. I encourage other organisations to do the same“.

    We are grateful for Allygroup’s financial support. This generous donation ensures vital community projects match demand and provide or expand much-needed employment so severely impacted by the health and economic situation,” says Louise O’Connell, General Manager of the Byron Community Centre.  

    Thanks to the generous donation, we are able to deliver the following for the next three months:

    1. The Byron Emergency Pantry which is a Food Outreach Service available to anyone unable to financially or physically shop. Food boxes can be provided with vegan, vegetarian and meat options to all people in need.  
    2. Part-time social worker contract for 2 – 3 days per week for referrals and assessments of increased numbers of community members presenting with mental health issues exacerbated by COVID-19. 
    3. Additional counselling services for COVID-19 induced (and other factors) mental health issues. A Psychologist will be available by phone to assess calls from community members experiencing mental health difficulties and refer to local experienced counsellors.

    In addition to these services, we deliver a range of other vital programs to vulnerable community members which also experience increased demand, e.g. the Women’s Shower Service, the Severe Wet Weather Shelter or the twice-weekly Homeless Breakfast. 

    We are hopeful that Allygroup’s generosity will inspire other organisations and individuals to support other Byron Community Centre programs in need,” says Louise O’Connell. 

    Background

    The Byron Community Centre is an independent organisation that receives no ongoing government funding. The Byron Community Centre operates as a not-for-profit social enterprise which means funds raised through the Byron Markets (through stall holder fees) and the Byron Theatre (through ticket sales) are used for essential community services and projects, e.g. the Homeless Breakfast or the Homeless Showers. With the Byron Markets and the Byron Theatre currently paused, the two main income streams for the Byron Community Centre have ceased. 

    Frontline workers at the Byron Community Centre predict an explosion in need of support services in the next two weeks. Early estimates suggest that demand will be increased 200% within two weeks. This is especially true for staffing and goods to meet current and future demand. 

    If you are in a position to support the Byron Community Centre, please visit our website for options to donate https://byroncentre.com.au/safetynet/

    If you would like to contact the Byron Emergency Pantry food delivery in the Byron Bay area, call 0482 787 552 from Monday to Thursday between 10am and 2pm to arrange delivery.  

    If you have concerns for your mental health during this difficult time, call 0415 322 064 from Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm. 

    If you need to talk to someone now, call LifeLine 131114.

    Women’s Counselling: For women needing extra support leave a message for Community Worker on (02) 6685 6807.

    The BCC building receives a face-lift this March

    The School of Art building in 1907

    The heritage-listed building which houses the Byron Community Centre, the Byron Theatre, the Byron Markets office and several local businesses, is due for refurbishment and some necessary renovation works. 

    The last major renovation works on the building were done in 1980/81.

    Refurbishment works on the facade of the building

    Byron Community Centre and Theatre management worked together with local design agency Whitewood on a proposal to refurbish the facade of the heritage-listed building. Byron Shire Council approved the proposal and works will commence in March. These works have been funded by grants received from the NSW Government Public Reserves Management Fund and more recently from Byron Shire Council for specific heritage projects. 

    The refurbishment works involve the washing of the building, new paint finishes on the external front of the building visible to Jonson St and replacing of the balustrade. The entry atrium area will receive new paint finishes. Finally, decorative lattice, verandah brackets and new signage will be added. 

    Putting the Byron Theatre in the spotlight

    Art Deco style 1939

    The new-look will increase the buildings’ presence on Jonson St and shows that it’s more than a community support hub because new signage will give pedestrians and visitors more clarity of the use of the building. In addition to that, one main objective is to increase the presence of the Byron Theatre on Jonson St and to provide ample opportunities to promote upcoming shows. 

    “My team and I welcome the refurbishment, as it will put the Byron Theatre in the spotlight and increase its visibility on Jonson St. We are right opposite the visitors and tourist precinct but visitors don’t know the theatre exists! The new exterior design will really give us more presence and the opportunity to broaden our market,” says Tanja Greulich, manager of the Byron Theatre. 

    Inspiration from the Federation era architecture

    The proposal honours the 100 years long history of the building and pays respect to its status as a heritage-listed building. 

    After renovation works in 1980/81

    “We drew inspiration from the original design of the building in 1907 when it was the Byron Bay School of Arts. It was important to us to incorporate elements of the Federation era architecture into our design plans,” said Julie King from Whitewood. “We worked closely with the Council to honour the buildings’ original character and its rich history.”

    The building was always the focal point of the town and the go-to place for the local community.  The renovation works will start a new chapter for the old building.

    “The refurbishment will give the building a new lease of life. The new-look will give the building a personality and presence on Jonson St.,” said Louise O’Connell, general manager of the Byron Community Centre. “We are very excited to reveal the new look to the public.” 

    Hidden Women of Byron Bay Fundraiser

    Shining a light on the issue of women who are homeless in Byron Bay.

    About this Event

    Join us for an International Women’s Day Lunch supporting our Hidden Women of Byron Bay.

    Hosted by Beef & Beach, Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce, and the Byron Community Centre.

    Your Ticket includes a Welcome Drink, Canapes, Banquet Lunch, and a donation to the Byron Community Centre for their recently launched women’s program.

    Did you know?

    The fastest-growing category of people experiencing homelessness is middle-aged and older single women.

    Domestic violence, isolation, poor mental health, children leaving the family home and the economic effects of this are key factors. Many of these women are sleeping in their cars, makeshift camps, or in unsuitable and dangerous accommodation.

    Together, we are raising funds to help these women through The Byron Community Centre.

    The Byron Community Centre has just commenced a program for women to provide wellbeing and support services locally.

    Women at risk of homelessness (as well as those already homeless) can have computer and internet access; counselling; therapeutic activities such as gardening and arts and craft; and access to hot showers, hygiene products and pamper days.

    Your financial support ensures this program continues effectively (in partnership with other organisations working with women in the Byron shire) to help these women from falling through the gaps.

    Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/hidden-women-of-byron-bay-luncheon-international-womens-day-tickets-92594924913

    Safe shelter during extreme weather events

    The Byron Community Centre (BCC) has provided 11 nights of shelter during severe wet weather in 2020. 

    Safe and secure shelter for those sleeping rough

    The Sever Wet Weather Shelter project offers a comfortable night sleep for those sleeping rough. There are plenty of hot meals, king-single camp stretchers, sheets and blankets, toilet facilities and a set of agreed house rules to keep everyone safe and secure.

    50 people registered for a bed during the past weather event and 45 people ended up staying for at least one night. Some have stayed for 10 nights.

    In partnership with the Uniting and Anglican Churches and Liberation Larder, the BCC has been running the Severe Wet Weather Shelter for the past two years. 

    “It requires a lot of organisation each night we run it,” says Elyssa Purdie the Homeless Projects Worker at the BCC.  “Confirming security guard services, qualified overnight crisis workers, cleaners, volunteers, food and other consumables, clean laundry, managing keys, monitoring behaviour and of course keeping an eye on the weather on a daily basis takes an enormous amount of time and resource. The weather is sometimes the most stressful element.”

    “To keep the shelter running, we need to access ongoing funding or donations from the community.”

    There is no recurrent government funding for this project. The project was made possible by small one-off grants secured in 2017 – 2019 from NRCF, Westpac, Harcourts, the Byron Shire Council and from generous donations from Global Ripple op-shop and Cunning Stunts (Wink Wink Nudge Nudge events at Billinudgel). 

    The BCC has enough to run another 16 nights of a mixed-gender shelter or 8 nights of shelter where the genders are separate. 

    Louise O’Connell, General Manager of the Byron Community Centre says “For the Centre to keep offering the shelter, we will need to access either ongoing funding or donations from the community.”

    “As long as we are here, we are alright.”

    Simon Warner said about the shelter after staying for 4 nights “I’d be getting pretty wet sleeping on the street. As long as we are here, we are alright. The staff are really good, give us a hot meal and a coffee and a chat in the morning. I think what is missing is a hot shower. I have to wait till Monday for that at the showers.”

    BCC Community Programs Manager says “10 of the nights were run concurrently recently and gave us the opportunity to put the policies, procedures and resources of the project to the test.” “We have reviewed and improved operations each night.”

    “I hope we can continue to offer this project into the future.”

    She adds “The shelter does not suit everyone sleeping rough. To give you an example, we cannot have dogs at the shelter because we don’t have kennels to safely house them; we can’t allow the use of alcohol and drugs in the venue or even allow someone to play music as it may disturb other guests.  Some people just can’t sleep in the same room as others, and some are suspicious of the security guards who are there to ensure everyone’s safety.  On the positive side, we are offering 20 beds more than anyone else in the shire and everyone who has a dry night sleep is exceptionally grateful.  I hope we can continue to offer this project into the future.”

    Donate Today

    Help us provide shelter during extreme weather events for people sleeping rough in Byron Bay. Please consider donating to this essential project. Click the button below to donate now. We appreciate your support.

    Severe Weather Shelter donations

    Thank you for donating to the Byron Community Centre.  We appreciate your contribution.
    Please note that we use 20% of every donation to help with admin costs. All donations are tax-deductible.

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    Donation Total: $1,200.00 One Time

    Helen Hamilton is Byron’s Citizen of the Year 2020

    Last Saturday, 25th January, our president Helen Hamilton received Byron Bay’s Citizen of the Year 2020 award. This award recognises citizens for their service to the community. 

    To read the full article from Echo Net daily click here.

    Source: www.echo.net.au

    We are very proud of our president, Helen certainly deserves this honour. We want to congratulate all the winners and are especially proud our amazing volunteer Margaret Robinson who received an award for being Volunteer of the Year as she ushers at the Byron Theatre and our wonderful board member Laura Peck for receiving the award for Community Event of the Year with local fundraiser parties Nudge Nudge Wink Wink.

    Photo: The 2020 Byron Shire Citizens of the Year (www.echo.net.au)

    Elder Beats at Beef and Beach

    On Tuesday, 3rd December, our popular seniors’ drumming group ‘Elder Beats’ received a special treat. Beef and Beach restaurant owner Troy Lister generously supported our wonderful group with a special Christmas luncheon. 

    “Elder Beats” drumming session at Beef and Beach restaurant

    The event started in the morning with a drumming session in the restaurant. Followed by a delicious and freshly prepared lunch for 47 seniors and seniors’ activities volunteers. 

    “The event was put together after we hosted another function on reducing ageism in our community and two of the drummers Feather and Nina Mirza were there drumming at 98 ½ years old. It was so inspiring to see our senior citizens bucking the trend and keeping active and social in the community. I thought it would be great to have all the drummers in and then shout them a really nice Christmas lunch, they definitely deserve to be appreciated, said Troy Lister.

    Christmas luncheon at Beef and Beef

    Byron Community Centre general manager Louise O’Connell and seniors’ activities coordinator Pippy Wardell are grateful for the generosity and support they experienced from the local community. 

    “We are truly grateful for Troy’s generous offer to host this year’s Christmas feast and celebration for our lovely seniors at Beef and Beach,” says Louise O’Connell. 

    “It was such a joy to see our fantastic group of seniors and volunteers getting excited about the luncheon,” says Pippy Wardell. 

    “Watching our drumming group perform in the beautiful restaurant that is Beef and Beach was nothing less of spectacular. Everyone had a great time,” she adds. 

    “We want to extend a huge thank you to Troy and his team for this special event and for showing our seniors and volunteers a great time,” says O’Connell. 

    The Byron Community Centre runs a weekly program for seniors which aims to connect older residents and create a sense of belonging. Activities include “Elder Beats – Seniors’ drumming”, Chair Yoga, a choir, ukulele classes and a morning tea. 

    “The Byron Community Centre’s seniors’ program aims to foster a sense of belonging and community connection for older people,” says seniors’ program coordinator Pippy Wardell. 

    For more information about the Byron Community Centre’s seniors’ activities visit https://byroncentre.com.au/community/seniors-activities/

    For more information about Beef & Beach Byron Bay visit https://beefandbeach.com.au/byron/