The outpouring of passion ignited by the consultants’ report suggesting Nowra’s CBD would be re-energised by the addition of a multiplex cinema shows unequivocally the community loves the art deco treasure that graces Berry Street.
In less than 24 hours, a petition opposing such a move had garnered almost 1000 signatures.
The report, by David Broyd Consulting Service and Urbacity, suggested Nowra would benefit from a new cinema and a discount department store.
It said the Roxy’s cinema presentation was less than ideal.
Well, it might not be up to the same standard as a modern multiplex in terms of sound and comfort. And, yes, there are times when the movie playing in the other cinema can be heard. But regardless of that, the old Roxy is held dearly in the community’s heart.
Architecturally, it is a gem – an excellent example of the art deco style embraced across the world in the 1930s. A recent spruce-up restored its lovely pastel colour scheme, making it one Nowra’s few remaining standout buildings.
But it is more than that. It has been enjoyed by successive generations, a meeting point for young and old. Friendships have been formed there, memories made.
The fear is that if a boxy, chain multiplex were added to the built and business landscape, the viability of the old cinema would be imperiled. And if the Roxy no longer operated as a cinema, would it lapse into disrepair and neglect and go the way of so many other old CBD buildings?
If embracing the future at the expense of the past means we lose one of our local icons, we should pause before rushing headlong into bland anonymity.
It should be remembered, however, that this is just a consultants’ report. Like so many others before it, the report offers suggestions and has not yet been adopted as a council strategy.
If the community makes it abundantly clear that it will not countenance any form of threat to its cherished old cinema, it would be a foolish council that ignored that sentiment.
So if, like many others in Nowra, you feel strongly about the Roxy’s future, the time to make your sentiment known is now. The report is on public exhibition and available on council’s website.
Don’t wait until it’s too late if you think it’s worth saving.