What was initially an aspiration of Cobram’s youth has become a reality for the entire region with the official opening of the $1.3 million Cobram Community Cinema today.
Little more than a year since works began, the transformation of Cobram Masonic Lodge on Main St into a modern dual cinema complex is complete thanks to a community-led effort that was initiated by the Cobram Youth Group soon after the existing Melba Theatre burnt down in 2010.
Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, said once he learnt of the community’s commitment towards raising the required funds, he began lobbying his federal counterparts for funding.
In March last year, Cobram Community Cinema received $526,650 via round three of the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund – an amount that was more than matched by community funds ($712,000).
“The Cobram Community Cinema is the realisation of a shared vision and commitment of the people of Cobram – it is the epitome of how a community working together can make things happen,” Mr Drum said.
“Building the Cinema has brought together the whole community, with individuals, local businesses, the Cobram Masonic Lodge and the Moira Shire Council making the project a reality.
“I can’t think of any other project that I’ve been involved with that has been driven by youth and supported by adults. It is a stunning result and I congratulate everyone involved.”
In addition to the Federal Government grant and community funds, Moira Shire provided $247,600 of in-kind funding, as well as a $75,000 grant. Dynamic Data Computers provided in-kind funding of $12,095, while Gardiner Dairy Foundation contributed a $5000 grant.
Boasting two cinemas, collectively capable of hosting 150 people, movies will start screening in time for the busy Christmas holiday period.
Project coordinator Rob Morey said he felt privileged that the almost 100 members of the Cobram Youth Group who launched the initial fundraising drive had entrusted him to deliver the project.
“September 13, 2012, will be a red-letter day for 96 young people who were asked ‘what do the youth of Cobram want for the youth of Cobram?’ Unanimously a cinema was the answer,” Mr Morey said.
“It is exciting that most of our community has embraced the cinema project and even more exciting that our local trades have taken ownership of the build and the project.
“There have been pretty tough times over the past few years and then COVID hit, so the cinema is a shining light and has allowed people to focus on some good news.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the Federal Government’s $526,650 grant would provide long-term benefits to the Cobram region.
“In addition to increasing the access to employment opportunities, especially for local young people, this investment will prove to be a real boon for the local economy with more people now being attracted to come into the town and have a night at the cinema,” Mr McCormack said.
Libro Mustica, who was last week returned as mayor of the Moira Shire Council, praised the initiative of the Cobram Youth Group.
“They have garnered enormous community spirit and donations, along with government funding, which helped champion this project to a successful completion,” Mr Mustica said.
“Moira Shire Council is proud to have played a part by supporting the cinema with civil works and funding towards the fit out.”