The keys to the Slim Dusty Centre have been officially handed to the people of Kempsey Shire to give the community its very own cultural and tourism centre.
At a ceremony on Thursday, the Slim Dusty Centre was transferred as an asset at no cost to Kempsey Shire Council from the Slim Dusty Foundation.
The agreement sees the transfer of the Slim Dusty Centre buildings and its contents, excluding the Slim Dusty Museum exhibits and memorabilia, at no cost. The Slim Dusty Museum exhibition will remain at the Centre with programming and promotion to maintain the strong links between the shire and country music fans.
Kempsey Shire Mayor, Leo Hauville, described it as an exciting day for Kempsey Shire.
“This transfer of ownership guarantees Slim Dusty’s everlasting Kempsey legacy and strong links to our shire,” said Cr Hauville.
“Council is uniquely well equipped to take stewardship of this modern, excellent asset that will deliver economic and community benefits well into the future.”
The transfer of ownership comes after two years due diligence and discussion between Council and the Slim Dusty Foundation following Council’s decision to secure the Slim Dusty Centre as a community asset in August 2021.
Representatives from Council, Slim Dusty Foundation and Slim’s wife Joy and children David and Anne, came together to hand over a signed Akubra hat as a symbol of the transfer of ownership.
David Kirkpatrick, son of Slim and Joy and Chair of the Slim Dusty Foundation, said they are delighted to see the future of the centre, and the museum, secured.
“When we opened this Centre in 2015 we named the exhibition a ‘Life Lived in Song’ and now that song will live on in Kempsey,” said Mr Kirkpatrick.
“The centre was built thanks to amazing support from the state and federal governments, Council and private contributions. We want to thank everyone who helped us make Slim’s dream a reality and we thank the Kempsey community for giving him a permanent home here. We’re handing over the centre to Council and we know it is in safe hands.”
Kempsey Shire Council Director of Corporate and Commercial, Stephen Mitchell, says the opportunities that ownership of the Slim Dusty Centre presents will see the Kempsey Shire flourish.
“Acquiring the Slim Dusty Centre fills a key gap in Kempsey’s creative and tourism infrastructure by instantly and economically gaining a large cultural and events facility,” said Mr Mitchell.
“A dedicated Slim Dusty Museum and Nulla Nulla Art Gallery curator will join the team to manage exhibitions and programming, which will be a key drawcard.
“This is an excellent asset for Kempsey that will deliver economic and community benefits well into the future.”
An internal refurbishment will occur in 2023 creating greater performance, event and meetings spaces, that will accommodate a greater variety of events and functions. Two electric vehicle charging stations will also be installed at the Centre.
“We think visitors will come to see the Slim Dusty exhibition and then stay to check out what the new owners are doing with the place!
You can say G’day G’day to the centre at www.slimdustycentre.com.au.