Gallery business case far from 'well underway'


2570 gallery tender OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
A claim by Minister Dale Wakefield on August 10 that plans are “well underway for a comprehensive business case” for the Aboriginal art gallery in Alice Springs appear to have been wildly exaggerated.
The fact is that this morning the NT Government’s Quotations and Tenders Online published a “new tender notification” for an “Alice Springs Consultancy – Comprehensive Business Case for the new National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs”.
The closing date is August 31 (two weeks away) with a period of assessing the tenders necessarily following.
Most importantly, should be be left up to the drafters of a business case which of the multitude of proposed sites should be used?
While the government has a preferred site – the hugely controversial ANZAC precinct – a decision has – perhaps luckily – not yet been made.
Ms Wakefield has announced “it is anticipated that the business case will be completed by the end of November 2018”.
All this looks like a rush job in the making, given that the project had been announced or mooted by the CLP government that crashed and burned two years ago.
UPDATE 4.50pm
The “scope of services” in the tender is clearly in direct contradiction with Mr Lovett’s assertion on Wednesday that a decision about the location has not been made.
The brief says the consultants are required to produce an analysis “in the preparation of a detailed business case for the development of an art gallery at the preferred site, the Anzac Hill Precinct, in Alice Springs”.
The purpose and key objectives of the detailed business case will be to, says the tender notice:
• Confirm market demand for the development of a National Aboriginal art gallery in Alice Springs through market research (both visitor and residential) and refine projections of patronage, market segmentation and price positioning based on these outcomes.
• Inform the development of a Functional Design Brief with respect to which activities could be included within the precinct to facilitate the best economic and cultural outcomes for the community.
• Enable the NT Government to further assess the proposal including any recommendations regarding investment facilitation and attraction such as local, regional, partnerships and opportunities that will enhance the long term viability of the art gallery.
UPDATE August 20, 6.30pm
The Labor government calling for a tender for a business case for the National Indigenous Art Gallery in Alice Springs reinforces how disingenuous the government has been to Territorians on the project from the start.
The tender document listing the ANZAC Hill Precinct as the preferred location for the project proves that Labor’s so called community consultation on the location for the project was simply lip service.
To reiterate, the Opposition has always maintained support for the proposed gallery, however notes that the government has failed to genuinely consult with the community in relation to the site on which the gallery will be built.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build an iconic national landmark and we would expect that the Labor government communicated the full details of the proposal to the community, prior to making a decision on the location for the gallery.


  1. The documentation, with out specifically mentioning Anzac Oval, seems to rule out Desert Park and South of Gap, as retaining green space and walking distance is hardly a factor for these two options.
    “… indoor-outdoor arts and cultural precinct which will house the National Aboriginal Art Gallery as well as retaining green space for community use.”
    “Located within walking distance of the Alice Springs Central Business District …”

  2. The government assessed the original proposal, but didn’t act on its recommendations, so now we have another in the making.
    Long-term viability, based on artworks is a risky business. Art cannot be made to serve a purpose, especially one designed by a government committee.
    A compromise by blending art with a culture centre at the old Melanka site would give an architect and curatorial staff a brief that just might result in something out of the box – interesting, informative, entertaining and meeting the economic criteria.
    It could involve music and theatrical performance in a multi-level, living space.
    The way this predictable project is going, it will end in expensive tears.

  3. Is everyone as confused as me? So, more consultants are needed until they serve up the desired outcome? Maybe the Minister should have said “plans for plans are well under way”.
    All sounds quite a fiasco. So, fix the brief to fix the desired NT Government outcome and dress it up as consultancy. I really must be missing something. Silly me. Forgive me, please.

  4. Mark, join the club.
    I believe this project, sometime called Cultural Center sometime Art Galley ( I do not know if it is one building or two), is a red herring to take people’s attention away from more important issues. I would like to read here what this government have achieved since the elections, ie.more jobs? reduction in crimes?
    what about the budget deficit?
    We have a beautiful art and museum center in Araluen, a museum in town with plenty of art galleries and sporting facilities.
    Could shops keepers tell us if businesses have risen since the opening of the museum?
    Could the Tourism bureau shows us the increase in visitors?

  5. There has been a lot a promoting the support for a gallery somewhere, but after reading the article featuring Robyn Lambley it makes me wonder if a campaign should be run actually opposing it.
    With the need for a new juvenile detention centre, and the issues of crime in the NT in general, funding this gallery, no matter where it is, might be the straw that broke the NT’s back financially.
    The government is trying to convince us that it will bring tourists and plenty of money into town. The fact is by all reports our tourism is fairly buoyant. The main attractions are what we already have, the people come for those attractions, but leave with a bad taste when they are affected by the crime, as well as making it unattractive for residents to stay.
    Given the current circumstances I think we would be far better off paying down debt and addressing the real issues, and not speculating on something that may or may not have the desired effect.
    It seems like the current government want something big they can claim as their in the years to come. I think leaving the NT in a better state financially and in liveability than when they took over.
    That would be a great legacy

  6. @ Hal Duell. Posted 20th August. 2:51am
    If politics really is the art of the compromise, then you might expect some attention be paid to my post of August 17, below.
    Not just because it’s mine – others have said much the same – but because it suggests that the government has the economy in mind by investing in Alice Springs’ commercial heart.
    Such a Keynesian gesture must ultimately survive on market forces and this is not the Museum of Modern Art.
    A compromise such as I have alluded to aims to limit considerable taxpayer exposure while creating employment opportunity. Add in Trevor Shiell’s Yirara-style hospitality / cafe arm and it’s cooking.
    However, as you comment, there’s more at stake than the economy.
    All I can see is another court house on Anzac Oval and not from the government that gave us the first one.
    All hail confusion!

  7. I remember when Nyinkka Nyunyu, the Warrumungu-owned art gallery / cafe / dancing space opened in Tennant Creek some years ago, just after I’d been living there, on and off, from the mid-80s to the mid-90s.
    It was a cool place to hang out and buy art / artifacts / coffee / lunch, etc, but the non-rhetorical question I have is, how come Alice Springs doesn’t have its equivalent?
    “Eugene’s Mate”, here’s an invitation to beguile us again.
    And another thing, if the Gunner Government wants economic modelling, why can’t it commission figures from Nyinkka Nyunyu?
    The TC building and space are adequate for the town and climate and it attracts tourist blog compliments.
    There are a number of integrated community, climate-sensitive buildings in Outback small towns and centres, e.g. Muttaburra, without having an “iconic, once-in-a-lifetime” art mausoleum erected in Alice.
    My third question is, how is it that Aboriginal organisations in Alice invest in supermarkets and car dealerships, yet they, to the best of my limited knowledge, haven’t said more than where they want the proposed art gallery / culture centre project(s)?
    For some time, Territorians up and down the track have considered Alice to be a dysfunctional basket-case of a town.
    “Once-in-a-lifetime” has just about passed its use-by-date.
    Where is the vision?

  8. I would not like to have any building, museum, hall, cultural centre, call it what you may based on the Nyinkka Nyunyu exercise in Tennant Creek.
    It is a great building, don’t get me wrong BUT the cost was humongous for what is there.
    It is closed more often than open because of staffing problems and the way is/was supposed to be operate, I could go on.
    Is this just another case of the tail (public service) wagging the dog (politicians) again to justify jobs?
    I made this comment to a pollie some years ago and the answer was “yes we know but do not know how to change it”.
    I was speechless for some considerable time.

  9. If they are doing it there they need to rip the band-aid off quickly and just get it done. We all know they will end up doing what they want anyway.
    I feel like they are just entertaining the people with ideas that the site can change (ticking mandatory boxes), but it won’t.

  10. @ Gavin Carpenter. Posted 21st August, 2018. 12:58PM: Yes, Tennant Creek is not Alice Springs and Nyinkka Nyunyu had staffing problems, but despite that cultural chestnut, it was case specific for the town, whereas I don’t think the current art gallery project proposed for Alice is.
    Perhaps, because of its cultural and geographical uniqueness, Alice Springs is ungovernable except by a big stick and the Gunner Government feels (as did the Feds in denying them the right to legislate euthanasia) that they are on the right track with their approach.
    Perhaps, they’re right.
    It’s kind of weird that Nigel Scullion as Minister of Indigenous Affairs supported euthanasia, but getting back to economics, who funded Nyinkka Nyunyu and what do you mean by humungous?


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