A week ago, the Alice Springs Town Council rejected the NT Government proposal for a complex land swap which would build the new National Aboriginal Art Gallery on the current Town Hall site in exchange for the council moving to ANZAC Hill – already rejected as the Gallery site. The Council’s determination – the $20 million offered by the Government was “simply unviable. When the considerable benefits of the existing Civic Centre location plus the greater costs of relocation and construction are taken into account, unfortunately, the offered $20m funding simply is unviable, said the council’s new CEO, Robert Jennings.
CEO Jennings did, however, agree that the land swap idea was still a possibility if enough money was offered but declined to identify what a satisfactory dollar sum would be. “I really don’t know, it’s too early at this stage ¦ it’s a great idea, and we really want to work with NT Government,” he said.
You wouldn’t guess that from the NT Government response in a press release:
“The Alice Springs Town Council has formally declined the Territory Government’s offer of $20 million to facilitate building the National Aboriginal Art Gallery on the Alice Springs CBD civic centre site. Ministers Lauren Moss & Dale Wakefield continued: Unfortunately what we have seen is a Council that is divided, lacks leadership and where individual Councillors have put their own political interests above the interests of the people of Alice Springs.
The Council has rejected the land swap proposal but has not provided any information behind their decision as to why the amount was not sufficient, nor have they come back to us with a scope of works, costings and also what they are prepared to put on the table. There have been no real solutions from Council after two years of intense negotiations.
The National Aboriginal Art Gallery is one of the biggest investments into Alice Springs in decades and is a defining project for the future of the town and an important project for revitalising the CBD. We (the NT Government) have continued to make every effort to work with the Alice Springs Town Council to identify a site within the CBD that will pave the way for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery. This project is too important for the future of Alice Springs into the 21st century for it to fall by the wayside. Alice Springs deserves its place in the world and for the opportunity to showcase the significant stories of art and culture from the voices of the First People, led by the Arrernte nation. End of the lesson!
I wonder whether either the Council or the NT Government noted interesting comments from one Alan Harrison in response to the original alicespringsnews.com.au story. Perhaps we’re looking at this the wrong way. Maybe an Aboriginal controlled gallery on Aboriginal land would make more sense?
Given that Arrernte Traditional Owners had the final say at ANZAC Hill, and given that the original proposal by an advisory committee was to head for the Desert Park, I have to ask whether that is concomitant with the Arrernte TO’s constantly expressed the desire to site the gallery beyond The Gap. And I wonder whether anyone from Alice has ever been to Hobart??? For one of the most successful new galleries in the world is MONA, and it’s nowhere near the centre of Hobart.
Did David Walsh even require a Business Case to come up with his hit museum???