By ERWIN CHLANDA
The National Aboriginal Art Gallery is not even out of the starting blocks yet it appears to be setting records already.
At a cost of just $246,534 its “Comprehensive Business Case” could well be the cheapest for a “nation-building project … the first of its kind in Australia, the first national institution dedicated to the celebration, display and interpretation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art” (quote from Mark Crees, Interim Director, Project Implementation Team) and due to cost the taxpayer at least $50m and maybe $500m.
It is sure to be the fastest formulation of a Comprehensive Business Case in Christendom: Ernst & Young had to churn it out in just five weeks: The NT Government awarded the tender on October 22 and the finished case had to be delivered before the end of November.
A bit of a rush? Maybe Dr Crees, who set the deadline, was mindful of the public statement by Minister Dale Wakefield, who is not the Minister for Arts, that the Comprehensive Business Case would be all cut and dried by the end of November.
Meanwhile Lauren Moss, who IS the Minister for the Arts, will not explain the timing, nor will she release to the Alice Springs News Online the finished report, saying via a minder: “Please direct this query to the Department of Tourism and Culture as it is operational.”
Or are there different forces altogether in play: Will this be the first tradies-driven art centre in the world?
In last Friday’s Murdoch Advocate the chairperson of Tourism Central Australia, Dale McIver (pictured), demanded an immediate start for the project.
In reply to her Open Letter we put some Open Questions to her. Here they are.
You say “TCA has long been an advocate for the project” touted by the NT Government as having global significance. How has your advocacy manifested itself?
No doubt it would need to include the following research:-
Please give me copies or URLs of material you have provided to the NT Government, dealing directly with the proposed gallery in Alice Springs.
What is the global demand for indigenous art galleries?
What are the advantages / limitations of Alice Springs being the location?
Given those, who are the people likely to come and what are the likely annual earnings of the gallery?
Given those, how big would the gallery need to be and how much would it cost to build?
How much would it cost to run?
Where will the funds be coming from, other than the NTG which is $1.5b in debt at present: The Federal Government? Philanthropists? Which ones?
What is the curatorial objective of the gallery?
Is it important to take into account the views of Aboriginal people?
How many are for a location south of The Gap as opposed to the ANZAC precinct? Please provide corroboration for your opinion.
Has TCA provided the government with answers to all or any of these questions, and if so, what were the answers?
Do you feel obliged to your industry members, and their customers, to press for the project to be carefully planned so it will to provide an authentic and appreciated tourist experience?
The inaugural meeting of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery – National Reference Group took place 14 days ago.
Have you seen the Comprehensive Business Case?
Please provide the grounds, facts and research on which the following of your assertions are based:-
• The opposition to the ANZAC precinct is misguided.
• The project will create jobs. How many?
• It will be a hub for even bigger festivals and celebrations. Which ones?
Are you asking for the spending of tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars before even the most fundamental details of the project are known?
We emailed these questions at 12.48pm yesterday. We’ve had no response by publication time of this report. We will publish it if and when we receive it.
UPDATE 9.45am December 4:
Dr Crees provided the following statement: “The comprehensive Business Case for the new National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs is currently under development by Ernst and Young with a draft report due back to the Northern Territory Government in early 2019. The discrepancy in relation to indicative timeframe relates to the time that elapsed between the tender being released, and tender being awarded.”
ED: The tender closed on September 7. It was awarded on October 22.
The Scope of Services states: TIMELINESS: A final detailed business case is to be delivered before the end of November 2018. Timeframes for key deliverables are: Draft Detailed Business Case – 7 November 2018. Final Detailed Business Case – 28 November 2018.