By ERWIN CHLANDA
Great news: The government’s allocation for the Iconic National Aboriginal Art Gallery is now $90m.
Not so great news: This is for the Iconic National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Darwin.
The Territory will have two Iconic National Aboriginal Art Galleries, according to a report quoting the director of the government’s Museum & Art Gallery of the NT (MAGNT) in Darwin, Marcus Schutenko.
While Arts Minister Lauren Moss (pictured with Namatjira MLA Chansey Paech and Phillip Watkins, CEO of Desart, when the Alice Springs gallery was first announced) disclosed the co-chairpersons of the Alice Springs version, Mr Schutenko told a national online arts magazine: “Darwin is seen as the world’s leading city for engaging with Aboriginal art. Coupled with our proximity to South East Asia, we are uniquely placed to tell some amazing stories through art.”
Writer Jeremy Eccles, of Aboriginal Art Directory, certainly was surprised.
He wrote: “Mr Schutenko doesn’t seem to have been reading the Territory’s Arts Minister’s views on her preference for Alice Springs as ‘the heart of Australia, (where) the National Aboriginal Art Gallery (for which only $50m has so far been allocated) will become a globally significant institution that celebrates Aboriginal art and culture and create [sic] jobs and economic opportunities.
“And I thought only Adelaide was competing with Alice for that gig!”
Mr Schutenko’s Spiel was uncannily similar to what people in The Centre have been fed by Ms Moss. Mr Ecceles reports: “This new ‘iconic art gallery’ … would generate a net economic benefit to the Greater Darwin region of $212m over the first 10 years of operation.”
We invited comment from Minister Moss at 1.41pm yesterday but have not received a reply by publication of this report.
UPDATE: Minister Moss provided this statement at 5.17pm.
The Territory Labor Government is proud to put our creative industries front and centre. The sector is vitally important to our tourism sector, and an important economic driver in its own right. This week’s release of the Australia Council for the Arts’ International Arts Tourism report continues to reinforce this.
The National Aboriginal Art Gallery will be built in the heart of Australia and will be a must visit institution for Australians and visitors alike, bringing job opportunities and economic development particularly in Central Australia. The National Reference Group just had their first meeting in Alice Springs to continue to propel this nationally significant project.
The Art Gallery in State Square forms an important part of the Darwin City Deal, recognising the role arts and culture play in vibrant civic centres, and showcasing more of the incredible art in the Northern Territory’s collection. An implementation plan will be released with milestones in due course.
By ERWIN CHLANDA