BALLARAT’S derelict rail sheds could be transformed into a vibrant centre of creativity and the arts, according to a group of residents and business leaders.
Known as “The Station”, the proposal would see the development of a creative industries “incubator” and a multi-purpose major event space.
The proposal is part of a call for submissions by the state government, which is set to formulate a masterplan for development of the precinct in the coming months.
Local artist Andreas Litras said Ballarat had to find a way of countering the artistic drain that was seeing the best and brightest creative minds flee for Melbourne and Sydney.
He said the “incubator” part of the plan would foster businesses with creative interests so that they could become sustainable.
“We’re trying to find ways of keeping that creativity in Ballarat, keep those people here and create jobs,” Mr Litras said. One of the bluestone goods sheds would also become an indoor/outdoor performance space which could host events, including art exhibitions and music performances.
Mr Litras said the creative businesses developed by the incubator could then move into the multipurpose space to generate income and support other start-ups.
“We want to make sure this stays as a real public asset,” he said.
“We think it’s got the potential to become a real heart for Ballarat, a real centre for the community.”
Supporters of the proposal include arts prize sponsor Mark Guirguis, former mayor Craig Fletcher and businessman Doug Sarah.
Western Victoria MP Simon Ramsay said he supported the project as one of many good ideas of what to do with the space.
He said the public were invited to view all submissions for the area at a community viewing at Jackson and Co on October 9.
Ballarat Regional Tourism chief executive officer George Sossi said it was a great idea but the key was ensuring that it was economically viable.
He said it was another idea that was “in the mix” for the underdeveloped precinct.
“Anything that progresses tourism we will support,” he said.