Art gallery: Door slammed on Desert Park


p2499g NIAG Lauren Moss 430LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Following the announcement of the preferred site [Anzac Oval – ED] and the release of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery steering committee’s report [I am announcing] the establishment of a project implementation team to oversee the delivery of the gallery.
The work of the team, which will be based in Alice Springs, will include scoping and planning of the building design and construction, curation, governance arrangements, legislative requirements, partnerships, funding sources and operational resourcing, national and local engagement, economic analysis and local capacity building.
Construction of the gallery is planned for early 2020 and will attract thousands of visitors from across the globe every year to experience the most significant art this country has ever produced.
The gallery will create hundreds of local jobs during construction and create and support hundreds of ongoing jobs once complete – it will deliver significant flow-on benefits to local business.
Starting this week, we will cast a wide net to recruit to two leadership roles including a project director and curator and it is important we find the best people for the job. We are seeking highly experienced Aboriginal people to fill these critical roles.
An immediate task will be an economic and social impact study of the gallery to support approaches to the Federal Government and other potential partners, and to inform work relating to community capacity building in Alice Springs.
The gallery will transform and revitalise the town, act as a drawcard for national and international tourists, deliver social and economic benefits including jobs and will be an important cultural asset that every Australian will be proud of.
Lauren Moss (pictured – archive photo)
Minister for Tourism and Culture


  1. Will … will … will … and more will and more committees and teams.
    In fact this is just an idea which is based on what data?
    “Will attract thousands of visitors from across the globe every year to experience the most significant art this country has ever produced.” How those figures were worked out?
    “Will create hundreds of local jobs during construction and create and support hundreds of ongoing jobs once complete – it will deliver significant flow-on benefits to local business.” Figures, please: How many local jobs exactly? Builders, electricians, decorators all guaranteed not to be coming from other states?
    How many full time jobs except the curator?
    “An economic and social impact study of the gallery to support approaches to the Federal Government and other potential partners.” What happens if no-one shows hand? Does anyone play chess in this government?

  2. So that’s it then, Anzac Oval it is.
    A short, little publicised online survey with an inconclusive result is all that Gunner, Moss and Co need to slam the door on the Desert Park alternative it seems.
    Visitors may well flock to see the most significant art this country has ever produced, let’s hope so.
    By the way, Ms Moss, I reckon Nolan, Whiteley, Streeton and Tom Roberts knocked out a few significant Australian pictures too.

  3. What an absolute joke.
    You say preferred location, but the last count shows that that location was favored by only 40% of respondents, and never proposed as a preferred site by the steering committee.
    Now you are seeking leaders not based on ability or experience or leadership, but first and foremost by the color of their skin?
    In the rush to bow down to the PC gods, this minister, and her government, have fallen flat on their face on this issue.
    This decision and location will greatly affect the amenity of the town, and take away one of the major sporting and social facilities this town has.
    Once the grass has been ripped up, and the grandstands give a view over nothing, it will be a fait accompli.
    We will have a massive white elephant sitting where one of our best sporting venues used to be, for what?
    A decision that affects Alice Springs made by people who are not local and have no intention of actually listening to the people.
    A poor decision made worse by the fact that the local people who know why it is the wrong spot are completely ignored. Disgusting.

  4. This is a centre that will fail. The Mayor of Alice Springs has failed his people in advocating to re-invigorate the northern end of the mall by building an Art Centre.
    What is Lhere Atepe doing about this ridiculous choosing of the location, where is the chairman and the CEO in all this, why haven’t they made a comment about this stupid decision?

  5. Unless something has happened recently, ASTC still owns Anzac Oval.
    I find myself wondering how long before the new government in SA announces Federal funding for an “iconic national indigenous art gallery” on the site of the old Adelaide Royal Hospital.
    We in Alice still say we own this project. It’s ours by right. It would be unthinkable to built it elsewhere in Australia.
    Questions: Do the aldermen in Adelaide require protective escorts on their way to and from council meetings? Are pedestrians scared to walk on North Terrace after the sun goes down? What was it the captain of the Titanic said just before encountering that iconic iceberg? Something about full speed ahead?
    Changing metaphors here, but the Gunner government is beginning to resemble nothing so much as an iconic rabbit in the headlights.

  6. Lauren Moss, as Minister for Tourism and Culture, may have accepted the portfolio for Propoganda, sharing perhaps earlier ministers’ principles: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
    Dr Joseph Goebbels: On the “Big Lie”.

  7. There is only one location for this project and that is the old Melanka site.
    Someone please show some vision and turn this eyesore into a valuable asset for Alice Springs. It’s in the perfect location and will utilise valuable wasted space.
    NT Government, show some guts, buy the land and do something worthwhile for Alice. It’s not rocket science.

  8. The Melanka site apparently is too small and has too many trees that can’t be moved.
    But really I think they are trying to avoid trouble hot spots like that, and instead of dealing with the trouble issue it’s easier just to pee off most of the town.

  9. I’ve been told the trees at the Melaka site were planted by early white settlers in town and are not sacred trees in reality. Is this true or not?

  10. There are two old river red gums at the corner of the Melanka site near the intersection of Stuart Terrace and Todd Street. These trees are very old and probably predate European settlement.
    The remainder, by contrast, are much younger.
    They were most likely planted in the early or mid 1970s, after the construction of the Melanka hostel.
    They are not local native species. Several are in poor health or have died, their decline due to their abandonment since the demolition of Melanka.

  11. Melanka just creates more problems. No parking, limited accessibility, no open green space, right next to KFC (no offence KFC).

  12. Here is a question for all those interested in and commenting on the proposed National Indigenous Art Gallery.
    If you personally were asked to fund, build and guarantee such an immensely important project, would you entrust it to the Northern Territory Government and the Alice Springs Town Council?

  13. Still waiting to hear from the native title corporation Lhere Atepe that represents TOs of the Arrente country.
    This is a matter of great importance as the ANZAC Hill is of great significance to these people.
    It is in the municipal boundaries of Alice Springs, you people are allowed to talk and not be trodden on.
    This is where the mayor has long been advocating the site of a art gallery.
    Congestion already exists and the building of one was and is his preferred location.
    But sadly it will only bring grief and will congest the centre even more.
    So Lhere Artepe chairman and CEO – make a statement and support to keep that area as it is!

  14. Sacred trees that no-one looks after. The Melanka site would re-vitalise Alice Springs.

  15. Chris, the best solution to please everybody is to forget the project and leave it for Adelaide where nobody is bickering.
    “It is well recognised that a National Centre for Aboriginal Arts and Culture is long overdue. The absence of a national gallery for Aboriginal Australia’s cultural and artistic heritage is a significant omission by Australian governments,” said South Australian Liberal Party leader Steven Marshall last week during the current State election campaign.
    Using the momentum of the opening of the Adelaide Festival and the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, SA Liberals announced that they would be pushing for a National Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre should they win the March election. THEY HAVE WON.
    The Liberal Party’s rather belated plan is for the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, and also includes an international school of culinary excellence.
    Steven Marshall said the gallery would be of international significance and would attract visitors to Adelaide.
    The proposed gallery would build on assets already established in Adelaide, including Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute and the iconic biennial Festival of Indigenous Art, Tarnanthi, led by the Art Gallery of South Australia.
    South Australia has the world’s most significant collection of Aboriginal culture, held by the AGSA and the South Australian Museum, but current space allows only 5% of it to be seen by the public.
    We better put ourselves into action or like the old adage says: “Which goes to the chase loses his place.”

  16. To Lauren Moss: Will, will, will … wishful thinking. Let’s hope for the best.
    But Desert Park site is a missed opportunity, the one preferred by experts who gave us well informed advice.

  17. @ Hal’s question: If you personally were asked to fund, build and guarantee such an immensely important project, would you entrust it to the Northern Territory Government and the Alice Springs Town Council?
    With respect due to all: “Certainly not.”
    If I was starting this adventure. I will
    Find out where and how I can obtain arts and artefacts and cost.
    Work out and design the building that will accommodate my projection including parking spaces.
    Look in Alice Springs for suitable sites big enough.
    Have a survey to find out what site the residents will prefer.
    Only then I will approach the Feds and others.
    But I have a deep conviction that our leaders have already decided and are just pretending to ask our opinions. They have only in mind themselves and their mates.

  18. Why is the art centre not placed across the road of Yirara College? Ready made work force combined with education. Showcasing the young peoples’ talent to the world.

  19. Anzac Oval cannot possibly be the preferred site voted in the brief survey by the local community. Front page of the Advocate stated 12% were not in favour and the remainder either supported or were neutral.
    I didn’t vote, and I’m not in favour of the iconic Anzac Oval being the preferred site. Anzac Oval is the best central location and venue to hold outdoor events like the Masters Games and live entertainment.
    What is wrong with the art centre being built out by the impressive Desert Park?
    How many Australians know that exists? I think the two centres will complement each other, and bring further awareness to the Desert Park and allow that to expand and grow.
    The backdrop of the outstanding ranges and come sunrise and sunset is an art painting in itself that cannot be equaled. Even the laser light show is held out there.
    It’s part of the outback bush scene, and I’m sure tourists prefer that above the suburbia scene, and not to mention the inevitable humbugging that will take place. The Todd Tavern is in walking distance.
    I don’t know where NT Government gets advice from, but it cannot be local content. Almost seems they’ve made their mind up and will just bully their ideas through.


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