Fires, break-ins threaten 100-year-old building
ROCHDALE Theatre has been the target of ongoing vandalism and breakins, with fires lit around the 100-year old building on two occasions.
Fires were lit on Sunday, April 28, and more recently on Thursday, May 9, at the back of the Goonellabah theatre, located at 603 Ballina Rd, adjacent to Goonellabah Public School.
Head technician and hire manager at Rochdale theatre, Luke Kane, said the theatre was affected by three break-ins between October and November last year.
During those incidents, the theatre's safe and fridge were stolen, besides other valuables.
"We've had various damage here over the last few months," he said.
"We've had two fires over the last week or so, but we've had break ins where they've stolen things like fridges, a safe, they've broken windows and other damage," he said.
Mr Kane suspects the fires were lit to trigger the theatre's fire alarms, as vandals may hope that this would unlock the building's doors.
"Myself and another members of the company stayed here overnight last year just to keep the place secure before we had an alarm system installed," he said.
"We were sleeping here, and one night someone broke in while we were here. I chased a young person down Jubilee Avenue."
The theatre volunteer said NSW Police was informed of the incidents.
"Everything of value has been removed from the theatre - we don't keep alcohol or cash inside, so there is nothing to steal," he said.
"We are doing the best to keep this place secure, but we are a community theatre and we survive on next to nothing, and each time this happens it affects our chances of providing theatre to the community."
Lismore Theatre Company president Sharon Brodie said that smoke from the fires was noticed by a member of the theatre returning home from work, and extinguished by Goonellabah Fire crews without damage to the building.
"Our precious little theatre is an older, largely timber building, and is therefore especially vulnerable to damage by fire," she said.
"If the community want help us protect the theatre we would be very grateful if they contributed to our Go Fund Me online appeal to install security cameras at the theatre."
To help, visit gofundme.com and search 'protect our theatre'.