Edward Mandla
City Recital Hall Failure

Published On: 30/03/2015

It’s a shame the City Recital Hall is a relative failure. In the same period last year, the Melbourne Recital hall, which is a lot smaller, had 511 events compared to our 221 events.

No doubt when the City appointed the operator a number of years ago, there was the usually backslapping.

Once again, history has shown it was yet another City of Sydney poor decision.

So out comes the sledgehammer and the George Costanza decision making methodology. As people would know, the hapless George had decided that his decision-making had been a total failure so from now on he’d do the exact opposite of what he was doing.

So what’s the opposite of an outsourcing to a venue operator? It’s the City of Sydney chucking $450,000 to set up a not for profit. There’ll be plenty of jobs for the city’s arts mates.

How do you justify a not for profit? Well you find a consultant to support your George Constanza opposite idea.

To a hammer, everything is a nail. To a not for profit consultancy everything is a not for profit. We decided that the outcome we wanted was a not for profit and then sought a consultant to provide flimsy support for our proposition that we wanted, not the best outcome for rate payers.

When I asked what the Lord Mayor, The Deputy Chair of this Committee and the CEO what they knew about this consultant. The answer was “absolutely nothing”. That’s the beauty of the plan. It was like George Constanza appeared live.

We’ve found a tiny consultancy from Queensland that amongst other things has appears to have a major revenue stream of creating and helping not for profits as well as finding board directors for not for profits.

We could have but choose not to engage in discussions with the Opera House, Sydney Dance Company, Melbourne Recital Centre, Carriageworks and a raft of others. But we assumed that they wouldn’t be interested. Last year we spent millions on a hair-brained scheme to sell trigenerated cold water to the QVB. That was until I yelled: “will someone please go across the road and ask them whether they want to buy our cold water?” When we finally made the journey across the road we found out that they had absolutely no interest in our water or crazy scheme.

We haven’t fully explored the other options.

But today we can only reflect on George Constanza who said, “If I owned a company (or should I say a not for profit), my employees would love me. They’d have huge pictures of me up the walls and in their home, like Lenin.”

No doubt in a couple of years, this chamber will be asked to dig deep to help this friendly not for profit out of trouble.

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