Dear Editor,

As a long-standing resident of Daylesford, I was shocked to learn that our Council has suddenly decided to sell the Rex. The Council recently adopted a Community Engagement Policy that requires community consultation prior to making a decision involving a lot of people and a lot of money. Surely the Rex project fits this category?!

Since the decision to sell the Rex was made in November 2021, many local people of all ages have been discussing this decision and expressing concern, outrage and frustration. Having had a long association with plans for the Rex commencing in 2003 via a group of young people led by Michael Huggard, I decided I should not sit back and just let this pass. Those young people were so passionate and visionary. The community group that later took up the baton was also passionate and succeeded in raising $140,000 and actually establishing a successful, thriving cinema in the Rex. Therefore, I convened a meeting of concerned community members to take action about this.

The purpose of the “Rethink the Rex’ group is to organize a large-scale community managed meeting, similar to the local bylaws meeting, with the aim of halting the sale of the Rex while a comprehensive community engagement process is established to look at alternatives to selling the building and to plan how the services identified as needed in this community could best be housed and delivered.

The community managed meeting will provide opportunity to generate ideas and explore a number of alternative options that could be pursued including partnering with other organizations to build and use the space, selling with conditions such as leasing back all or part of the building or building a new purpose-built facility. Previous consultations identified the need for a larger library, a social enterprise café, hospitality training centre, cinema and accommodation of council staff. The council appears to have made no Plan B as to where these services will be located in the future. The public meeting will provide opportunity to explore ideas as to where these various services may be best located.

This community has a host of creative people who can be of great support to Council in developing creative, innovative, inspiring yet practical solutions as we “Rethink the Rex’. We need Councillors to face up to the challenge and listen to the community rather than looking for a quick fix and washing their hands of the situation.

Jules McDonald,