Give gallery space

THE story of the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery to be located in Alice Springs is becoming more and more a horror story as time passes.

Of course it is a good idea, if it can be done properly, with adequate funding, an appropriate site, well-informed planning and management, and the happy support of all of the Alice Springs community.

It would be a mistake to build it in the Alice Springs CBD, just as some lobbyists insist that all such specialist public buildings, of tourist interest, should be squeezed regardless into the CBD in Darwin, to bring extra income to commercial interests there. That is poor planning of community assets.

There are several reasons why the National Aboriginal Art Gallery should be sited outside the small Alice Springs CBD. It should have a picturesque natural Central Australian backdrop to set it off, like Mount Gillen. It should reflect its essential Aboriginal character, and not be squeezed within a European context.

It will need space to grow as its activities, collections, and reputation expand world wide. It should be in a place where Aboriginal people, including artists can always feel comfortable.

When we have the funds ($50 million est) to build this gallery, international interest in Aboriginal art will draw visitors flying from all over. They need to be impressed, and will not expect a small set-up. They will not baulk at hire car or taxi rides of a few kilometres if the gallery’s status is right.

Both Alice communities have made it clear that a site at or near Anzac Oval would not be right for them. Also we must not seriously underrate the strong importance of heritage in Alice Springs. It cannot be ignored at the important Anzac site

The people of Alice Springs by this stage may be feeling bullied over this planning issue. Lately, a secret message from the NT Government to Mayor of Alice Springs, suggested that council could perhaps give up its smallish, but prime central town site, to make way for the proposed gallery to go to the Anzac site.

This cannot now be seen as friendly. On the face of it, it might be read as a threat to local government’s independence, and a lack of respect for the ratepayers of Alice Springs.

M A Clinch Brinkin

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