Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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HomeIssue 15Gallery business case slap in the face of custodians

Gallery business case slap in the face of custodians

The business case for the national Aboriginal art gallery, one year overdue, is “based on the development of a CBD-based” institution, a location in direct conflict with the wishes of the town’s Aboriginal custodians.
They want the gallery to be built south of The Gap, for well-defined cultural reasons.
While the custodians’ views are clearly ignored by Ministers Dale Wakefield (pictured) and Lauren Moss, they now refer to this town as “Mparntwe (Alice Springs)”.
Both Country Liberals president Ron Kelly and Councillor Marli Banks said in reports published by the Alice Springs News today, ahead of the media release about the gallery, that there needs to be further consultation with the community, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, before the gallery can go ahead.
The business case claims that the gallery “will bring an additional 53,000 visitors each year, deliver up to $64m into the economy and generate up to 245 local jobs”.
According to the media release today, the report prepared by Ernst and Young says the project “will deliver significant social, cultural and economic benefit to Alice Springs and surrounding region”.
The government has committed an initial $50m to the gallery project as part of its $100m “investment in a nationally significant Arts Trail throughout the Territory to support and grow the arts and cultural industry, and provide new and enhanced attractions for national and international visitors”.
According to the key economic findings of the business case, as reported in the release, the gallery will bring:
• an additional 53,000 visitors to Alice Springs each year, with visitation generating a further economic contribution of between $42.8m and $64.2m and 164 to 245 jobs;
• a direct economic contribution from gallery employment of around $13.73m per annum and up to 69 jobs once fully operational;
• an economic contribution of between $118.6m and $142.4m during the construction phase and up to 260 associated jobs each year over two years.
The release quotes the chairperson of Tourism Central Australia, Dale McIver, as welcoming the release of the business case: “A project of this calibre that is estimated to bring in an additional 53,000 visitors per annum to Alice Springs, which celebrates our Aboriginal Art in Australia is a much needed economic shot in the arm for both the Tourism Industry and the broader community.”
It also quotes the co-chair of the gallery reference group, Dr Gerard Vaughan, from Canberra.
No Aboriginal person is quoted in the media release.
We have asked Minister Wakefield for the cost of the Ernst and Young report.
The cost of the business case report is $224,121 excluding GST, according to a spokeswoman for Minister Wakefield.


  1. Over 1000 extra visitors per week? Really? And up to 245 jobs.
    I like the get out of jail phrase “up to”.
    Maybe find out where it SHOULD be built to satisfy those who will most likely be supplying the stock first.

  2. Ed: Tender awarded to Ernst&Young on 22/10/2018. Value at time of award $246,534.
    On the upside, the NT Government records them a “Territory Enterprise” so that is good for our economy and keeping money in the NT.
    Good to see the local development / buy local policy is kicking goals!
    All info above is publicly available.

  3. “Support and grow the arts and cultural industry” by breaking cultural protocols and insulting Indigenous custodians. Seems right for an Australian government.

  4. The Labor Party big knob socialist flogs said exactly the same thing about the Desert Park, the Araluen Arts Centre, the Strehlow museum and arts centre, the dinosaur museum and so on years ago.
    All failed socialist lemons that cannot and do not stand up on their own without major funding from taxpayers.

  5. Hopefully this lives up to expectations and delivers for the local economy – while also showcasing our artists and their talent globally. Would be good to understand what marketing and promotion ideas are being planned.

  6. “When will you wake up and not let politicians
    Take you for fools? Are you fools?
    When they campaign, there’s so much
    They promise they’ll do, but never do
    Are you fools? Can’t you see?
    They only come around when they want something from you and me.”

  7. @ Matthew Langan (Posted August 26, 2019 at 6:44 pm): Not sure which universe you’re living in, Matthew, but of all the places you’ve listed as decisions by “Labor Party big knob socialist flogs” the only one that is an initiative of a Labor government is “the dinosaur museum” which I take to mean Megafauna Central in Todd Street.
    All the rest were established during the long rule of the CLP before it ended in 2001.
    None of these were ever expected to be profitable in their own right; rather, they are a reflection of a jurisdiction that was anticipated to be affluent enough over time to establish and support such facilities.
    That aspiration increasingly appears to be a mirage; and in that sense the “case” put forward to justify the NAAG is a forlorn attempt to flog a now very dead horse.

  8. With the Territory election taking place this time next year and the fact that probably neither Wakefield or Territory Labor will be in government, it might be time for the custodians to talk to the other side of politics.
    The building of the gallery in a location unacceptable to Aboriginal people defies belief. It is possible they will ask that their artwork not be displayed in this gallery.
    I for one will not donate my rather large and interesting collection of Namatjira watercolours to such a place. Others, I believe, will follow this example.
    As to the extra visitors, how will these be accommodated? Our caravan parks and hotels were full for most of this tourist season.
    I cannot accept the ambit claim of 245 jobs. Publish the details or retract this claim.
    Finally, there is a emphasis in this report about how much money the gallery will make for the town. Nothing wrong with making money, but not in the context of trampling on others’ heritage and traditions with the expectations of a reward for yourselves. This smacks of piracy.

  9. Wrong again Matthew Langan (Posted August 26, 2019 at 6:44 pm).
    It was actually “big knob socialist flogs” from the CLP who talked up and used government funds to build the Desert Park, the Araluen Arts Centre and the Strehlow Museum.
    If you have complaints about those places and their costs to the public purse, go talk to the conservatives. Nothing to do with the Labor mob.
    The CLP under both Adam Giles and Gary Higgins has indicated it would also support a new National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs.

  10. @ Matthew Langan: Your confidence in the ability of the NT Labor party to actually deliver ANYTHING astounds me.
    Other than delivering increased business to glaziers and panel beaters, of course.

  11. 1000 EXTRA visitors week? Really?
    And the government leaders do not take a second and say exactly the same thing? Or do they push ahead and shift the blame to Ernst and Young?
    I might believe maybe 100 visitors per week, ergo an adjusted economic input of $4.2 Million. Taking a more realistic figure, it will take a hell of a long tome to ever pay that back, especially adding in the relocation of the council or the building of the football fields whenever and where ever it is built.
    I still don’t understand why the site at the Desert knowledge Precinct in not considered, with Yirara students just across the road for transition to employment training.
    Even the Melanka site at the retail price and creative architecture or the disused fuel depot near Hungry Jack’s, once again creative architecture to meld with the landscape.
    Even with the rehabilitation of the land prior to building it, it would probably make more economic, geographical and cultural sense.
    Sorry, hard to type while I am laughing at these figures. Please ensure you archive these predictions Erwin.
    I would love to be proven wrong five years after it is built!
    [ED – No worries, it will be in our fully searchable archive, now spanning 25 years and containing about seven million words.]


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