MADE may be dead but the troubled obligation of the Eureka legacy continues for Ballarat. Indeed if the council meeting marked the death knell of the museum of democracy it would be interesting to see who appears at the wake.
For one fundamental problem was not enough people cared enough.
Like some ancient dowager who finally passes away, there is plenty of worthy eulogies, the murmurs of lasting respect but finding the people who genuinely liked her is a bit more elusive.
One could be cruel and say; MADE is dead but does anybody care?
That in itself might hint at a deeper malaise; despite thousands of school children learning and revelling in the experience and hundreds of thousands of other visitors walking away with enlightened and memorable experiences, there just doesn’t seem seem to have been enough people who cared enough to keep MADE alive.
Moreover, there may have been too many people fighting spitefully over the legacy. Like the grotesqueries of a Dickensian will, all claiming propriety or priority, the bewildered matriarch gasping in the complexity of loyalties, trying to be all things to all people, expired with exhausted exasperation.
Like any wake there will now be plenty of talk of blame but the pity is, as a city, Ballarat still has a site and story of incalculable value; a pivotal moment in Ballarat and Australia's history. Its key place in the evolution of democracy in this country, indeed its resonance as part of a wider mid-nineteenth century movement, despite for some having an almost sacred status, never quite resonated with the general public. A pity too that this place and its stories are one of Ballarat’s great legacies to the nation and we have not done it justice.
Council is in an unenviable situation. On one hand the commercial expedient; a 2011 plan indicating with adequate patronage they would only need to contribute $250,00 to the recurrent costs but finding upkeep was closer to a million dollars a year. A national monument without the recurrent national funding it potentially deserved and certainly needed, was always going to be a strain
On the other hand, council now has the duty of preserving the legacy, before even considering prickly issues like the custodianship of the flag.
And there is still the question of funding, whatever form the next carnation takes
.Federal and State governments who have invested heavily in a concept may well be more reluctant to resuscitate and support an old difficult idea.