Accusations of mismanagement at Australia’s largest community centre continue as revenue raising exercises rub tenants the wrong way.
The Addison Road Centre’s (ARC) board has developed a new rental regime based upon floor-space that will increase existing tenant costs, with the rent of Addison Road Gallery expected to triple. The Centre is on a former military site that requires significant upkeep.
General Manager of the Centre, Rosanna Barbero said the director of the Gallery, Terry Cutcliffe is behind in rent, and the Centre attempted to take possession of the Gallery last week by changing the locks. Ms Barbero said:
“We did exactly what our lawyers instructed, and exactly what our members wanted.”
Mr Cutcliffe drilled the locks and is now staging an occupation of his own gallery in protest of what he sees as Centre mismanagement. He said he is up-to-date with his rent and has created a petition calling for government intervention. Mr Cutcliffe said:
“It’s just totally insane here. They’ve made no attempt to get a court order because they know they won’t get one.”
Tenants are also concerned that a bingo company is replacing the circus arts group, Aerialize as the main organisation using the Great Hall at the Centre. The ARC board recently evicted the troupe, claiming that Aerialize was occupying space that was required for community-based groups.
Aerialize General Manager, Patrick Corrigan was critical of the replacement.
“It’s gone from tragic comedy to absolute total farce,” he said. “The whole concept of replacing a perfectly viable community organisation with a gambling organisation in a community center … I just find unbelievable.
“There’s something pretty vile going on at the Centre. The whole place needs to be shaken out and an administrator appointed by the Minister.”
Ms Barbero said the Centre was contacted by Learning Links, an organisation that works with families and children with disabilities. She said the funding from bingo would help finance these services.
“In a climate where funding is being cut for disabilities, they are providing essential services for mothers, fathers who have kids that are mentally and physically challenged.”
Ms Barbero said Aerialize were using the great hall for 6 days a week and paying $30,000, limiting the opportunities of other organisations to use the space. She said Learning Links are paying four times that amount and only using it for 20 hours a week, freeing the hall for use by other organisations the rest of the time.
“This extra money that we’re getting from them, we can use to fix things that have been neglected in the past 20 years,” Ms Barbero said.
Mr Corrigan said Aerialize had negotiated a deal that would have allowed ample public access to the building.
Justo Diaz, who was elected to the ARC board in January, said they are just trying to address problems created by previous boards.
“If there was any bullying, any mismanagement, any corruption, any nepotism, they are responsible,” Mr Diaz said. “Yes there’s been a toxic environment, but it’s not this board that’s been creating this toxic environment, it’s some people that are selfishly defending their own interest.”