By ERWIN CHLANDA
A media release from the Chamber of Commerce, signed by its Darwin-based CEO Greg Bicknell, says the National Aboriginal Art Gallery should be at the ANZAC Hill precinct because it “will increase foot traffic through the Todd Mall and CBD area therefore increasing the opportunities for local businesses”.
He says the recent Megafauna Central launch “is a great example of a CBD initiative where over 600 people attended the opening, providing all CBD businesses with increased exposure and potential trade”.
Mr Bicknell begins his release with a statement hardly anyone in town would disagree with, namely that the gallery “will be a major drawcard to Alice Springs for tourists, art enthusiasts and architects from all over the world seeking to get a glimpse of what may prove to be one of our town’s greatest attractions.
“It is our view that the gallery also be considered an important part of the national education curriculum.
“Every student should be exposed to Aboriginal culture and art at some point during their formal education potentially creating a ‘pilgrimage’ to the heart of indigenous Australia.
“This will increase visitation by over 150,000 per year,” says Mr Bicknell, without substantiation of that claim.
All these advantages from the gallery, of course, would accrue no matter where in town it is located.
The controversy is about the ANZAC Hill precinct location, and there Mr Bicknell’s statement is devoid of statistics and research details, merely stating the chamber has “consulted with our executive committee, surveyed our members and met with the NT Government and Alice Springs Town Council in the past few months.
“From this we have concluded that the ANZAC Hill Precinct is our preferred location … based on the positive response we have received from our members and the local business community.”
PHOTO: The “preferred” ANZAC Hill site. The high school is in the centre, part of the oval at right.
The list provided by Mr Bicknell of people having been consulted by the Chamber does not include any Aboriginal people.
We have published a comprehensive report about the position of the Chamber’s Alice Springs branch, quoting its chairman, Dave Batic.
By ERWIN CHLANDA