By ERWIN CHLANDA
Arts Minister Lauren Moss has ruled out any consideration by the new National Reference Group other than Anzac Oval as the site for the proposed Aboriginal art gallery.
FROM LEFT: Mark Crees, Lauren Moss and Dale Wakefield at the media briefing this morning.
She said 755 people had been “engaged face to face” during an “engagement period” of three months – avoiding the word survey.
She was speaking to media in Todd Mall this morning, just hours before the Town Council is due to release figures from its survey.
Asked by the Alice Springs News Online whether the reference group was empowered to consider other sites and make recommendations, Ms Moss – surprisingly – referred to the initial steering committee which had ruled out Anzac Oval and recommended Desert Park.
“The steering committee made it very clear the [site] needed to be a certain size … catering for the green space for a sense of arrival … but we also wanted to make sure that there are ongoing benefits for the CBD and the local communities,” she said.
“Government has already made clear its preferred site. We have worked through a steering committee report that has 14 recommendations.”
With the site question, which is splitting the community, not being part of the group’s terms of reference Ms Moss said it “will work on implementing those recommendations” including the curation, cultural protocols, governance.
“This is an Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander majority national reference group.”
Will it be looking at other sites?
“They won’t be looking at other sites,” said Ms Moss.
The statistics gymnastics are continuing.
MLA for Braitling Dale Wakefield said there is “significant support for the [Anzac] site in the community or people don’t have a strong view about the location” but not saying in what proportions.
Araluen director Mark Crees said the “engagement” took place in line with an International Association of Public Participation model “engaging” with six stakeholder groups.
The major ones were Aboriginal stakeholders, 41 key individuals (traditional owners, elders, custodians and respected individuals and CEOs of companies).
“We made sure we approached the correct cultural authorities” including the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, Lhere Artepe to discover who we should be speaking to, says Dr Crees.
“We gained that authority from those individuals, yes, this is the place where the gallery should go provided that sacred sites are protected.”
Dr Crees said of the 755 people “engaged” 88% “were supportive of the project” – a percentage in line with anecdotal evidence.
But Dr Crees, for the first time in the debate, narrowed it down to “58% of every one of the 755 wanted it to happen on the government preferred site, the Anzac Hill precinct”.
Ms Moss, notwithstanding the robust criticism from members of the initial steering committee, persisted in praising its work: “We have gone through a six months steering committee process with really talented, experienced people. We continue to be guided by those recommendations, noting that the site was just one, a small part of that report.”
Ms Moss said there had been a meeting with the town council this morning and the council was due to make a decision on Monday.
What if they vote no to handing over their rugby fields, asked the ABC.
“We are absolutely committed to work with council to get a positive outcome for the town of Alice Springs.
“We are confident we can have the gallery open by 2022,” said Ms Moss.
Asked if South Australia may beat Alice Springs to the punch she said: “I would argue strongly against South Australia having more iconic art than the Northern Territory.”
Deputy Opposition Leader Lia Finocciaro (pictured) says the consultation was “fake” and the people of Alice Springs people “feel thay don’t have a voice.
“The consultation had a pre-determined outcome.”
If the council says No the government does not have a Plan B.
Meanwhile, South Australia is “snapping at our heels” and the completion date of the Alice gallery of 2022 is unrealistic.
The gallery started as CLP project and the party, if it regains power, with push it ahead, says Ms Finocciaro.
New gallery committee to get no say on location
By ERWIN CHLANDA