To Whom it May Concern,
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to submit our ideas on the future of Wangaratta, which is a great place to live!
You will find attached a precis of a letter I wrote in 2016 to Irene Grant just before the election of new councillors, which pertains to the Wangaratta Art Gallery and aspects of the CBD Masterplan.
4 Gayer Avenue
Wangaratta Vic 3677
Wangaratta Art Gallery
I am writing to you as the Administrator holding the Arts Culture and Heritage Portfolio and providing copies for the other Administrators and some staff as list below.
The Friday 29 April edition of Wangaratta Chronicle included a letter from me about Wangaratta Art Gallery. I am confident that many people in Wangaratta and the region share my appreciation of the current exhibition and the exceptional standard of work which the Gallery Director and her staff undertake in presenting exhibitions and the many associated activities which enhance our appreciation of the visual arts.
We are fortunate to live in a place where the local government authority provides both good infrastructure and highly competent staff for its citizens and visitors to engage with arts, cultural and heritage activities.
However, on 26 April about 20 people met to discuss some issues concerning the future of our wonderful gallery. The group included creative people and art lovers who participate across the wide range of arts related groups in the Rural City of Wangaratta. The meeting discussed ;
Wangaratta Arts Gallery building development
This concern arose out of the response to the following question posed at a recent meeting of the Wangaratta Rural City Council meeting by Kathy Whelan, President of the Goulburn North East Arts Alliance (GANEAA).
In response to this question …
Why have the previous plans for the Wangaratta Art Gallery extension and renovations that were designed, costed and partly funded by the state government, been totally ignored by the CBD Masterplan now on two occasions? It offers a strong solution for the current site and would resolve many issues the gallery now faces and will help to ensure that the gallery can be sustainable both economically and professionally for many years to come.
The idea of The Cultural Centre as mentioned in the CBD Masterplan fails to offer any solution to the gallery’s needs.
… Jamie Carroll, Director of Community Wellbeing, indicated, as expressed in the minutes of the Council meeting …
There was extensive planning several years ago in regards to the Art Gallery including its design and infrastructure. Significant issues around parking, heritage and structural integrity were considered and these were deemed as very extensive and therefore expensive. These were reviewed in the CBD Masterplan on a much broader level. The CBD Masterplan takes into account a future plan for arts within the whole of the CBD.
The meeting on 26 April 2016 acknowledged that there are many very positive elements in the CBD Masterplan - Arts & Culture Portfolio. Many of us are very aware of the benefits of engaging the community in street art, performance , installations, etc., which are fun, enhance the environment, foster a sense of inclusiveness, democratise art, and encourage community spirit.
However, we do not support the concept of developing a Cultural Centre on the Tara Court site in Ford Street at the expense of the further development of Wangaratta Art Gallery.
The plan for extensions to the gallery was developed in consultation with the very competent and well informed gallery staff. It addresses the need to house, and to exhibit, the Wangaratta Collection, to provide spaces to exhibit travelling and local exhibitions, to provide a better space for workshops, the gallery shop and also to unify the building with consideration to Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre and the large tree and the courtyard. The heritage and age of the building are aspects which certainly need consideration but as the Rural City of Wangaratta plans to ‘maintain the building’ this will be still part of the budget.
Those at the meeting would very much like to see the original plans for renovating Wangaratta Art Gallery revisited and openly and broadly discussed. We consider these plans a far better solution for the gallery’s future than the proposed development of the Tara Court site.
The gallery now offers a diverse range of programs which support local artists, young artists, emerging artists as well as professional and well renowned artists. The gallery provides very informative Art Lovers Talks, this year on a monthly basis to cover many of the exhibitions. Explanatory information, often in video format is provided for exhibitions and there are well publicised and well attended activities for adults and children based on gallery exhibitions. Gallery openings are free and provide thoughtful commentary and reflection of the works displayed. The Friends of the Gallery provide welcome and refreshments at all openings.
We believe it is critical that Wangaratta Art Gallery continues as a professional gallery which offers a wonderful service to locals and attracts many tourists to Wangaratta.
Wangaratta is fortunate to have many citizens both active in, and highly supportive of, the development of arts, cultural and heritage infrastructure and activity in the Rural City.
We particularly hope that at this stage there will opportunities to be engaged in discussions about the ongoing development of Wangaratta Art Gallery.
Art Teacher at Wangaratta High School (retired)
GANEAA committee member
Arts Council Committee member