Speaking on Notice of Motion 4, for the 16th August 2022

Good evening Councillors – My name is Cheryl Szatow. I am a past councillor, deputy mayor and mayor of Ku-ring-gai and long term resident of Killara.  I am speaking tonight against Cr Spencer’s Notice of Motion that Marian Street Theatre be rezoned and reclassified to enable sale for development and the subsequent funds to be used to fund other projects.                                                         

Well – I am sure we don’t know whether to be insulted or bemused. Cr Spencer – you were a member of council on June 26,  2018  – along with Crs Ngai, Smith and Pettett – when more than 200 supporters packed the Visitors’ Gallery in Council Chambers and the ten member council voted unanimously to rebuild the historic theatre.  Support came  from far and wide – from Eminent Sydney Siders – Dame Marie Bashir,  playwright David Williamson; actors Hugo Weaving, Miriam Margoyles, Rachel Gordon, Jacqui Weaver, Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsyth ….. the list goes on….

And now – four years on, the architects selected, the development application approved, the funds budgeted for –  the details 99% complete and … What? Death by a thousand cuts at the eleventh hour! You have singularly taken it upon yourself to exhort your fellow councillors to betray the very community you are pledged to serve. Cr Spencer – where have you been? You say Council has projects waiting that benefit more people than a theatre – have you any idea of the extent of the demographic that patronise the arts? I hope that by the end of this evening you will.  Councillors – I hope that by the end of this evening,  you will have learnt something of the theatre’s history and just how much this particular theatre means to the community – here and elsewhere.

For the Marian Street Theatre is an icon – an icon and a  landmark building in every sense of the word. It is more than a building – it is a symbol of life in the Upper North Shore …. From its inception as a Soldiers Memorial Hall in 1906 – established and funded by the community, and supported by Council, the theatre stands as a symbol of individual and collective endeavour – of the hopes and dreams and sacrifices of a thinking community. The theatre is a living projection of our social progress. It imbues not only  Killara with social and historical meaning – but all of Ku-ring-gai – it is a legacy of the past and a hope for the future.

 And councillors – what will your legacy be? Will you be remembered as the Council that tore down an icon? Or the Council that ensured its longevity? Will you be remembered as the council that supported the community? Or the council that turned its back on its electorate? In short – a short lived council?

You are charged with an almost sacred responsibility – do not let Marian Street Theatre die –  stripped of all her proud moments, so there is nothing left of her history to inspire our children.

” For If we are not inspired by the past, where will we find the strength to fight for our future. Councillors – the future is in your hands