Charles Sturt University has confirmed it will keep the Riverina Playhouse operational for the foreseeable future, despite moving many of its theatre subject offerings away from the Wagga campus.
While the theatre sits on council-controlled lands, the university has a lease on the building until 2034.
When contacted by The Daily Advertiser a spokesperson for the university confirmed that it intends to "keep the Riverina Playhouse and explore new options for its future".
As a principle part of Wagga City Council's cultural precinct plans, mayor Greg Conkey said: "we can't afford to lose it".
"We won't lose it, if worse comes to worst, we'll be having discussions with the university about ways we can keep it operational," Cr Conkey said.
At the end of 2018, the playhouse had unveiled its $3 million refurbishment, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the theatre has had to sit relatively unused for much of this year.
While the city does also boast the basement theatre and civic theatre within walking distance of the playhouse. The civic theatre, in particular, is more than twice the size of the playhouse, which can seat up to 200 in a semi-circle around the stage.
Cr Conkey admitted there was no way these theatres could "meet the full demand" if the playhouse fell into disuse.
"The civic theatre would not e able to take over running that many shows. As I understand it, the playhouse is in high demand and the civic wouldn't be able to accommodate or absorb all those shows," he said.
Federal member for Riverina Michael McCormack described the theatre as being "an important part of Wagga's cultural fabric for many years".
"While the decision regarding the future of the Riverina Playhouse is a matter for the university, I would expect the institution to consider the venue's role in Wagga's rich history of performing arts," he said.
Mr McCormack also pointed out the federal government's $277 million funding for artists and organisations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the further $10 million available through the Regional Arts Fund.
Last week, the university announced it would cull 20 subjects with no enrollments across its campuses. A further 28 courses with low student numbers will be dissolved and another 61 courses will be moved to another campus or online.
At the Wagga campus, the courses that will feel the greatest changes will be in the psychology, business, IT and creative industries faculties.
The communications, theatre media and creative industries courses will be rolled into one course with specialised majors across each campus.
There will no longer be a separate Bachelor of Theatre Media and a Bachelor of Creative Industries going forward.
The university said the decision was made based on the low student enrollments in these courses over the past five years.
State member for Wagga Dr Joe McGirr said he would keep discussions about the future of the university open and would be "open to seeing what will happen".
"I think the most important thing right now is that we continue to emphasise how important the university is to the city and to the whole region," Dr McGirr said.
Dr McGirr joined Mayor Conkey and federal member for Riverina Michael McCormack in meeting with the university last week to ensure the "city's concerns have been heard".
"We've come up with a working party that will involve local, state and federal government representatives working together with the university," Cr Conkey said.