I have recently returned from an eight-day trip overseas representing the City of Ballarat, and I am proud to say it will reap enormous economic, cultural and tourism benefits for our municipality.
I first visited Paris, along with Art Gallery of Ballarat director Louise Tegart, where I held a productive meeting with Acting Australian Ambassador to France, Angus McKenzie. Mr McKenzie praised us for being proactive and bringing the City of Ballarat to the global stage, rather than just waiting for the world to come to us.
As a result, Mr McKenzie has invited Ballarat to be involved in regional 2021 Year of Australia in France celebrations.
We also discussed a partnership exhibition between the Musee de la Chartreuse de Douai and the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Ms Tegart and I then visited the Musee de la Chasse et la Nature and the Musee de Qui Branly. Both have excellent, innovative programs the Art Gallery of Ballarat wants to explore locally.
I also toured the Paris Catacombs, the world’s premier underground tourism example, for insights for the underground tourism plans Ballarat is exploring.
We also met with Kathryn Weir, the Centre Pompidou cultural development director, which provided some fantastic ideas for our Creative Cities Strategy currently in development. I then toured the SYCTOM-Isseane Recycling Centre and Energy from Waste plant located on the Seine River, which is surrounded by 4000 houses and is only 8km from the Eiffel Tower.
Here, I learnt about the need for really strong education campaigns around waste and recycling as part of any Waste to Energy implementation in Ballarat.
It was followed by a visit to Station F, the world’s largest creative co-working space, and the Cite de la Mode et du Design, a multi-disciplinary art and performance space that hosts temporary exhibitions, events and performances. Both of these visits fed well into the Creative City Strategy and future Civic Hall plans.
I then toured the Cornwall and West Devon mining landscape world heritage site, Heartlands in England. We discussed their bid process for world heritage listing, what they learned and what the listing has meant for the region. Their bid was the same model being used for our Central Victorian Goldfields world heritage listing application, which could bring up to $68 million in economic benefits to our region.
It was fantastic to see a living world heritage-listed site in action, and especially interesting to see how the creative sector helps bring the site to life, for example using a five-storey high mechanical Cornish miner as a travelling exhibition. I also discovered the Cornwall business sector had played a big part in the bid, which I will feed back to the 13 councils involved in our submission.
I then toured the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre, which strongly supports community engagement, waste related education and transparency always. They encourage visits and tours, have a full-time education officer and an education centre, and I believe it is well worth investigating a similar program at any Waste to Energy plant in the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
I also visited the Peterborough Energy Recovery Centre – which has the same technology as that proposed for BWEZ – and had a comprehensive look at all energy recovery process stages.
The final leg of the trip was Bursa, Turkey where very valuable discussions were held at the three-day World Conference of Historical Cities.
Ballarat was one of only seven cities re-elected to the World League of Historical Cities board out of the 116 participating municipalities.
Bad Ischl in Austria has already indicated they would like to establish a digital-city relationship with Ballarat to share data and ideas, while a number of useful case studies will now be explored locally, including how social media influencers can promote heritage cities and digital gaming use to drive tourist visitation.
It was with great pride that I also saw the display from Ballarat’s 10 young artists as part of the Colourful Touch to History exhibition.
Interesting discussions were held with Panorama 1326 Bursa Museum director Senol Dulger. Panorama creatively tells the story of the Ottoman Empire foundation, with valuable lessons learnt for future Eureka Centre plans.
I also spoke to former ICOMOS site assessor Dr Rasool Vatandous, who gave me extensive insight and contacts for the Central Goldfields bid.
As a result of this trip, there have been valuable lessons for our world heritage listing bid, the Eureka Centre and Civic Hall, our Creative City Strategy, underground tourism plans, the Art Gallery of Ballarat and our Waste to Energy proposal.
It was an extremely productive trip that will reap benefits for Ballarat for many years to come.
Cr Samantha McIntosh is mayor of the City of Ballarat.