By Sam Forbes
The Bond Street Event Centre in Sale is a local venue with a difference. It’s a Social Enterprise, which means all profits made from operating its commercial events space are reinvested in facilitating community events with a social purpose.
As a commercial business Bond Street operates as an events centre and meeting space for hire, where groups can use modern AV equipment, a fully registered kitchen, a licensed bar and flexible space to host their various gatherings.
What makes Bond Street exceptional is what happens next. The profits from those commercial events then make it possible to fill the space with lively and dynamic events and gatherings that will build people and community.
The man behind the venture is David Willington, who said he has seen the transformative power of education.
“When people participate in education, you can see their confidence grow and you can see them become more empowered to participate in things that they may well have previously been excluded from,” said David.
Bond Street hosts discussion groups, poetry nights, local and touring musical acts, art and photography exhibitions, educational talks, youth & mental health groups, and film nights.
The variety of content within these categories is even more impressive. There have been talks about health, quantum physics, the environment, citizen science, archaeology, and philosophy to name a few. Talks are often presented by local people who have a particular expertise in a subject area or a keen interest and a passion for sharing their knowledge.
An example of this diversity of local talent is the recently formed philosophy club with Nikolai Blaskow. The club quickly covered an introduction to philosophy before moving on to an extended thought experiment considering the case of millions of climate refugees trying to come to Australia. The opportunity for the community to come together to consider a local, regional and national response to such issues seems increasingly relevant in a time where COVID-19 has shown us that these kinds of situations are more reality than fiction.
Relevant information for people to stay engaged in what is happening in the world around them is clearly a driving theme at Bond Street. A further example of this is the presentation in 2019 on the Eden project, a world renowned mine rehabilitation and tourist attraction which could well form the way ahead for the Latrobe Valley.
Going back further, former local man Michael Kewming who is now an academic at the University of Queensland gave a down-to-earth talk about quantum physics to a full-house in downtown Sale on a Monday night. The audience was engaged throughout the talk which covered the latest debates about causality including a new take on the age-old problem of the chicken and the egg.
“I hope that Bond Street can – in an albeit small way – be a catalyst to help people grow and develop,” David said.
“This might include a kid who develops a love of science or the arts, or a young actor, poet or musician who develops their confidence to go on to bigger things, or a person wanting a safe place to learn and participate in the world about them.”
Bond Street Event Centre has taken the idea of a space for hire and grown it into a space for active participation in the community and society.