Arts group urged to look beyond walls to sustain creative spaces

Ballarat arts and culture leaders have been urged to think beyond bricks and mortar to sustain vibrant creative arts spaces after doors are opened.

A seminar at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka last night brought together guest speakers from some of Victoria’s eminent community arts spaces including the Abbotsford Convent and Newport Substation.

The City of Ballarat’s community arts and culture co-ordinator Deborah Klein said there had been a lot of conversations and debates about the need to plan for active arts spaces in Ballarat beyond the approach of bricks and mortar.

“There’s been a number of conversations about how to keep the doors open,” she said.

“The representatives come from a broad spectrum of creative arts spaces. They represent a model of how it can be done successfully and how it can be sustained in the community, whether it’s a three artist collaboration or a big community space.”

Abbotsford Convent representative Maggie Maguire said the site was earmarked to be turned into apartments, but a passionate community campaign had changed the fate of the now iconic Melbourne arts precinct.

“Four hundred to 500 people go to work there every day,” she said.

“Over 500 individuals and organisations are on our waiting list for space.”

Ms Maguire put the draw of the convent down to its combination of green open space, professional collaboration and focus on hospitality.

“I can’t tell you how important coffee is – there has to be a place where people can congregate and talk and muse,” she said.

She said the multi-art form approach of the facility was one of its strengths.

Other guest speakers included representatives from White Cowwar Art Space, Off the Kerb, Gasworks Art Park, West Space and The Stockroom Kyneton.

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