26 May 2023

Preferred venues for new Griffith art gallery announced

| Oliver Jacques
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Griffith Regional Art Gallery

The existing Griffith Regional Art Gallery. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

The results of community consultation on a plan to improve Griffith’s cultural attractions were published on 18 May 2023, outlining the arguments in favour of building a new art gallery in the town and the form it may take.

Councillor Jenny Ellis revealed the two preferred locations for a potential new gallery, based on community feedback, are the old bowling green next to the Visitors Information Centre and the TAFE/Griffith Regional Theatre site at the top of Banna Avenue.

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Griffith City Council engaged consultants Conrad Gargett and Taylor Cullity Lethlean to develop a ‘Cultural Precinct Masterplan’ for Griffith. The consultants are guided by a group called the Cultural Masterplan Committee, which is chaired by councillor Ellis and includes councillor Shari Blumer, as well as staff of exisiting cultural institutions, and community members.

The aim of the plan is to provide a vision for the future growth and enhancement of Griffith’s art, music, entertainment and cultural offerings and activities.

Conrad Gargett facilitated a series of workshops to obtain community feedback on the plan in February and April 2023. His Consultation Outcomes Report was published online on 19 May 2023.

Two councillors and resident in hall

Councillor Jenny Ellis, councillor Shari Blumer and Sue Fordham at a Griffith City Council Community Opinion Group forum, which discussed the new precinct masterplan. Photo: Griffith City Council.

The report detailed views on the four main cultural hubs in town – the Griffith Regional Art Gallery, Pioneer Park Museum, Griffith Regional Theatre and Griffith City Library – highlighting existing strengths and growth potentials of each institution.

Sessions at the art gallery had about 35 participants.

“The overarching objective of the gathering was to explore the need for a new gallery space, with an emphasis on what is desired for the future gallery, while also acknowledging the value of existing programs and activities,” the report stated.

One “resonating point” that summed up the feedback was: “I think [coordinator] Raymond [Wholohan] and staff are wonderful and do a great job with a totally inadequate space.”

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Other resonating points indicated a new gallery should be centrally located and include a place where people can sit outside and meet friends.

Councillor Ellis said the Cultural Masterplan Committee met with the consultants to workshop possible sites for a new regional art gallery on Friday 18 May.

“When the consultants visited Griffith they were taken to 10 different sites as suggested by the public,” councillor Ellis posted on Facebook.

“1. Current site; 2. Bowling green next to Information Centre site; 3. Current government offices site; 4. Showground (Willows) site; 5. Masonic Lodge; 6. Railway St; 7. Colla Bro’s old building; 8. Theatre/TAFE circle; 9. Scenic Hill next to Pioneer Park and 10. Zecca’s building next to library.

“From our workshop the committee decided to focus our attention on the two spots with the highest scores … the two preferred sites are: old bowling green [and] TAFE/theatre area.”

A draft of the Cultural Precinct Masterplan is due to be presented at the end of June 2023, with a final version to be completed by October 2023.

Updates on the plan can be found on the Cultural Precinct Masterplan Facebook page.

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