It seems the only people interested in the much-delayed fate of the important Tarrkarri Aboriginal cultures museum in Adelaide apart from AAD is the ABC. Their reporter asked a vital question of a reluctant SA Premier Peter Malinauskas on Monday, and I have confirmed much of the accuracy of Stephanie Richards’ report.
The South Australian government is taking until the end of the year to come to a decision whether to go ahead building the globally significant Aboriginal art and cultural centre, Tarrkarri.
Malinauskas also said he had spoken with philanthropists and the federal government about contributing more funding for the Tarrkarri Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre, which is at risk of being abandoned if additional money is not found.
“It’s an expensive project. I think it’s an important project culturally for our state on that parcel of land. One of the variables that underpins the economics of Tarrkarri is visitor attraction from both interstate and overseas”, the Premier is quoted as saying by the ABC.
The Premier had previously warned that Tarrkarri could cost up to $600 million if built on North Terrace — three times the amount currently budgeted by state and federal governments. Could he have given Premier Andrews in Victoria an idea for cancelling the Commonwealth Games?? But Malinauskas added that the state government had not ruled out increasing its budget for the project and it would be open to accepting funding from publicly listed companies.
“If there are good private companies or individuals who would want to make a contribution to this effort and are interested in the project, then we remain receptive to working with them collaboratively,” he said.
Hopefully the example of Sydney’s mighty philanthropic fund-raising for its Sydney Contemporary gallery will inspire South Australian‘s wealthy.
Tarrkarri is slated to be bigger than the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia combined, and could draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It is also set to display tens of thousands of Indigenous artefacts from the SA Museum Collection, which have sat in storage for decades. But the government put the project on hold last October following a $50 million cost blowout.
At the time, it announced former Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt, former New South Wales premier Bob Carr and former investment banker Carolyn Hewson would review the project. As part of that review, the former SA Tourism Commission chair, Andrew McEvoy conducted an investigation of how many overseas tourists would be attracted to the centre when it opened. The government is yet to release the original Tarrkarri business case – I wonder who conducted that? – or the reviews conducted by McEvoy, Wyatt, Carr and Hewson.
“We’re being really scrupulous about wanting to make sure that the decision we make is underpinned by evidence that any such investment will be a lasting, positive one for the state culturally, but also economically”, the Premier told the ABC.
The former Liberal state government is known to have considered visitation numbers. The estimate was for between 485,000 and 581,000 people to visit the centre in 2025. By 2040, it expected the numbers would increase to 665,000.
I note with pleasure that four historic Kaurna objects, including a spear, a plant-fibre fishnet and a digging stick have been returned from Dresden this week after their removal by German missionaries from the Adelaide district in the 1830s. Wouldn’t they look good, contextualised in Tarrkarri!
But sadly, news of another museum delay – the Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne which was to open its expanded gallery spaces on Friday has had to put off the opening until December. Back in February, an important retrospective of the late Josh Muir’s all-too-brief career was announced to launch a refurbished KHT across all three levels of its current building, creating a stand-alone First Nations arts and cultural centre – a first of its kind in an Australian capital city.
Seems they got the timing wrong too!