By ERWIN CHLANDA
The cart before the horse metaphor couldn’t be more fitting than in the case of the proposed national Aboriginal art gallery in Alice Springs.
The Alice Springs Major Business Group (ASMBG) and the Chamber of Commerce have done extensive surveys of their members’ opinions, according to chairman Dave Batic (pictured), but are still waiting for results of basic advance assessments of the project to be supplied by the government.
MLA for Braitling Dale Wakefield claimed in a media release on August 3 that the “Alice Springs business community has come forward in its support of the Anzac Hill Precinct as the preferred site”.
We asked her what kind of ground work had been done by her government.
Did she have a business plan for the gallery, a cost benefit analysis, an assessment by recognised experts on the global demand for Indigenous art galleries generally, and especially in Alice Springs?
“Using that as a guide, what is the logical amount of money that should be spent on the project?
“Where should it be located [and what are the] key performance indicators?
“Do you have such documents?”
If so we asked for copies.
We’ve had no reply from the Minister for Families who’s invaded the turf of Arts Minister Lauren Moss on this issue.
The currently canvassed locations are the Desert Park (the sole suggestion by the government-appointed planning committee but rejected by the government); the ANZAC Hill site, preferred by the government from the get-go, hitching the project to CBD revitalisation; and south of The Gap, the choice of several prominent Aboriginal people concerned to observe cultural protocols.
In historic times, when members of southern tribes sought to traverse Aranda land, they had to wait at The Gap to obtain permission to enter.
As things stand, there is no indication from the government that they are going to be guided by Aboriginal people in planning an Aboriginal gallery intended to be a in icon the world over.
Mr Batic says the ASMBG is “fully supportive of a CBD location” the gallery.
“The ASMBG represents over 1700 direct and indirect employees with over $500m turnover each year in Central Australia.”
The issue is more complicated with the Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Batic says it has “canvassed a large portion of its membership.
“CEO Alana Richardson has been talking face to face with members rather than an on-line or paper based survey as we traditionally have a very low response rate with surveys.”
But the result of the majority being “in favour of a CBD / ANZAC Hill location” is inconclusive given that the two are two different things.
Says Mr Batic: “ASMBG and Chamber of Commerce members – 90% plus – are in support of the ANZAC Hill precinct.
“What we would like to see is the economic data between the CBD location compared to outside the CBD i.e. Desert Park.
“We have been advised this information is being compiled and will be made available shortly.
“The majority of businesses do not differentiate between the CBD or ANZAC Hill, one and the same.”
The local tourism lobby, Tourism Central Australia, did not respond to an invitation to take part in this report.
National Aboriginal art gallery: The horse and the cart
By ERWIN CHLANDA