The team from Eastern Riverina Arts has finally moved into new digs in Wagga’s iconic ambulance station and executive director Tim Kurylowicz couldn’t be happier.
“There’s a real sense of elation in our team. This has been something we’ve been working towards for many years and very intensively for the last 12 months,” he says, enjoying the sun-soaked upstairs office overlooking Johnston Street.
“It’s a really great milestone for Eastern Riverina Arts and for the creative community.”
After moving in on Friday (14 April) and setting up desks and chairs, they spent their first full day in ”the Ambo” on Monday.
“We’ve been working out of a very small rented office and we now have a gallery space, meeting rooms, the capacity to host and support other people, and most importantly, we have this venue that we can make available to the community,” Tim explains.
“It changes our operation from being an organisation that largely manages projects from a computer to an organisation that still does that, but also can host humans to actually create and support them as well.”
While there’s still work underway to transform the building into a creative hub, the first creative businesses will begin setting up in the coming weeks, with programs and workshops rolling out in a couple of months.
“We’ve got a big fitout process that is already taking place and will continue over the next 12 months,” says Tim, explaining that the former garage will become a gallery.
“We’ll be replacing the roller doors with something more open and also creating some really beautiful design solutions to allow that light to come into the space and for the community to see into this beautiful and inviting gallery space.”
The Wagga Business Chamber will also move into the Ambo in the coming months with a view to driving an arts economy in the Riverina based around the connections forged within the hub.
“Most creatives create in a vacuum in their heads and in their bedrooms and they think they’re alone. Often it’s through interacting and seeing other people doing stuff that the ideas click and the collaborations work,” Tim says.
“In the business sense, we’re working on the notion of creating a virtual agency. For example, you might have an animator and a composer who are both beavering away in their bedrooms, freelancing and taking small gigs from other people.
“If they both are working in a site like this, they can keep doing that work, but they might also decide they want to put their heads together and do something bigger, and we can help with that.”
While it’s early days, Tim says the ERA team members are following their ”gut instinct” that they can build something unique.
“Nobody’s doing it, so we are kind of blazing a trail,” he laughs.
“But we are really committed to engaging with the sector, both in the cultural, government-subsidised art industry sector – galleries, libraries and such – but also we want to reach out more intentionally to the film industry and to the advertising industry and say, ‘What do you need? How do we build those connections?’.
“We cannot wait to have this place open to the community. We’re not quite there yet, but it’s very much a ‘watch this space!'”
You can keep an eye on ERA and the Ambo’s progress here.