Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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HomeIssue 2Who put Anzac Oval on the agenda as site for art gallery?

Who put Anzac Oval on the agenda as site for art gallery?

Anzac Oval OK


The government will neither confirm nor deny that it added Anzac Oval as a recommended venue for the National Indigenous Art Gallery in Alice Springs.
Reliable sources say that the steering committee charged with the selection of a site recommended only the Desert Park.
Arts Minister Lauren Moss announced in April last year that curator, writer and consultant Hetti Perkins and chief executive of Desart, the peak body for Central Australian Aboriginal art centres, Philip Watkins, “will lead the committee of key experts”.
She says at the end of the committee’s investigation late last year, “two potential sites for the Art Gallery were put out to the community for comment – the old Anzac Hill school site and Desert Park”.
She doesn’t mention here Anzac Oval which has provided contentious, but elsewhere says: “We have also heard loud and clear how important the community green space is at Anzac Hill. Any potential future plans for that site must take that into consideration.”
It is true the Government put out the two sites for public comment – but had the committee put those two sites forward?
Ms Moss did not answer the questions we put to her, which were: “Our information is that Anzac Oval was not on the table as a site at the time the committee undertook their investigations.
“We are informed that the committee did not take the initiative to add it.
“Why was Anzac Oval added? By whom? On what grounds?”
Ms Moss replied: “The project builds on the Territory Labor Government’s commitment to transform and revitalise the Alice CBD, support local business and develop Alice Springs as the inland capital of Australia.”
This appears to be an indirect answer to further questions from us: “If the committee was over-ridden, what does that say about the integrity of the process?
“Should the best interests for such an important cultural project be subservient to another agenda, ie CBD revitalisation (this was clearly to the fore in the government’s ‘Have Your Say’ consultation on the site)?”
Although the government said at the time that the selected site needed to take into consideration cultural considerations as well as proximity, accessibility, size, landscape, there has never been any detailed information in the public domain analysing the two option according to these criteria. In particular, there has been absolutely nothing said about cultural considerations.
Ms Moss did not respond to our request for information about cultural criteria for the two sites.
Ms Moss said further in reply to our questions last Friday: “We will announce the site of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery shortly and the next steps.
“This is just the start of what will be ongoing consultation with the community as this project evolves. We will continue to listen to what residents have to say.”
PHOTO: Anzac Oval at the lunch of the 2016 Masters Games.
National Indigenous gallery process hijacked?


  1. The contention in this story, that the Anzac Oval site was added by the government, is hardly a surprise.
    Governments of all stripes tend to do this. First they decide what they want to do, then they empower a committee to make suggestions, then they hold a public consultation and, finally, they do what they always intended to do.
    This process is so obvious that it could be said to tick the box promising transparency.
    About the final site, a reliable source (sorry about that but I did promise) tells me that the fix is in for the Anzac site.
    The old school will come down (carefully, as it’s riddled with asbestos) and enough of the oval will go to render it unfit for rugby.
    The two rugby codes will be given another site, and enough of the old oval will remain to ensure that Alice will continue to have a green and open space events venue in the middle of town.

  2. Undoolya Road – Aboriginal land next to the Desert Church site is ideal, opposite sports fields with parking, flood free, easy access, room to expand. Too easy?

  3. This ongoing debate makes me very angry. Yes it sounds like a political debate rather than an issue of urban planning.
    I am disappointed at the lack of “grand vision” so far. Ask Domenico Pecorari: Such an important decision for such a unique art gallery must be inserted in the grand plan of this town. So that later we would not say, we could have, we should have … too late.
    In my own humble opinion, there is land and space and good reasons to join the Desert Park and the natural beauty of Central Australia, with an Indigenous Art Gallery representing the creativity of the people of this land.
    Anzac Oval is well used and well loved. Leave it as is. If we replace it with the said monumental art gallery, the whole environment, the Youth Centre, the Catholic Church, Anzac Hill itself, will be dwarfed.
    We already have the example of the Supreme Court next to the Residency!
    As for the revitalization of town, first reduce the burden of costly airfares so that people will come to Alice, but also create living hubs closer to the CBD.
    It is people who create life, not buildings. We’ve have had the tendency to put people further away from the town centre, so the town centre is dying.
    Town planners save in urban development rather than politicians must be included in the decision making. Such an important new building needs to become part of the grand plan of the Alice Springs of the future. Don’t make it a distant future, it can be done now.

  4. Well said Maya or rather well written. Maybe Anzac Hill is important to the dead, but Anzac oval is important to the living.

  5. Thanks Maya. Good comments. I cannot believe that Anzac Oval is under consideration as an option. Why would we rob Peter to pay Paul?
    Putting the Indigenous Art Gallery at the Desert Park will add to and enhance that space, without getting rid of an existing asset.
    But to take away Anzac from the rugby and rugby league communities makes no sense; and even if some green space is retained it will never be the same.
    If the NT Government is determined to house the Indigenous Art Gallery within or near to the CBD, surely there are some other options to explore – even if it costs more to gain access to land. What about the old Melanka site? Or the vacant land next to the Ghan, on the Stuart Highway (corner of Whittaker St).
    And how about some real consultation with the community. Start out with a blank slate, not predetermined options – and consult the community, especially Arrernte people, about what might be the best place to house the gallery.

  6. Art and culture are inextricably linked. There is a push for a national indigenous arts centre and culture centre. Surely if we want to be serious about this we would start respecting and protecting the cultural assets we already have.
    Our town is rich in sacred sites but how many of them are respected. Few if any. Council and governments continue to allow damage to be done to sites.
    If we had the right level of respect these could be seen as assets that could become a drawcard for those many tourists wanting some sort of cultural experience.
    If we had more respect for culture and sites then perhaps we could justify spending millions on an arts / cultural centre.
    That said. If we must build then find an ugly place to beautify, I say opposite Maccas. I think its safe there. The Anzac Hill site and Beaurepairs / Hungry Jacks area as well as the Undoolya Road area proposed by someone are all encroaching on important sacred sites.

  7. Well written, Maya. It would be a travesty of common sense. I love art but I’m certain that there are more sport followers in this town than dedicated gallery visitors.


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