RE: The proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery Such an organisation/institution is …

Comment on CBD revitalisation no show all council’s fault? by Interested Onlooker.

RE: The proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery

Such an organisation/institution is not about a site or a building.

I was reminded recently about the origins of the National Gallery of Australia. Its inaugural Director James Mollison was the Director for TEN YEARS before the NGA moved into its purpose-designed building. He worked for the first ten years from an office and a warehouse.

Constructing a building (on whatever site is chosen) BEFORE there is an organisation, Board, Director, staff, strategic plan, policies, procedures and confirmed on-going operational funding will only lead to a white elephant which may not be suitable for the operations of the organisation that develops. The building design must be driven by decisions that have not yet been made. The organisation will be limited by what someone thought was an appropriate structure prior to any strategic direction re exhibitions, collections, or public engagement being established, and this will probably cripple the organisation’s ability to grow and develop.

The ideas developed in the first plan – The Initial Steering Scoping Report to the NT Government – prepared for and published by the NT Government – were strong. The Initial Scoping Steering Committee Members were an informed and appropriate group of people. They had knowledge, experience in the area, strong networks and a clear vision.

I and many others in the arts industry were horrified when this committee was ‘let go’ and the process taken over by inexperienced public servants and local members [of parliament] without any formal training or experience in this complex field. From then on it has been all downhill.

While I do respect the public servants, MPs and Councillors in their own areas of expertise, a national project like this is simply outside the capacity of anyone currently involved. Such an important institution cannot be got off the ground by amateurs.

Possibly Hetti Perkins may have been the one person with the experience, networks, Indigenous and non-Indigenous respect, and entrepreneurship who might have been able to pull this ambitious plan off in the same way that James Mollison implemented the National Gallery of Australia. It was a shame that she was ‘let go’.

Now all we have is a lot of squabbling over the site which is divisive for the town, offends local TOs, and provides the likelihood of an unsuitable building.

It doesn’t matter which political party is governing the NT, or where the site and a building is going to be, if we are not going to get a fully-funded professional and credible organisation to run it. At the moment NT does not have the resources to fully fund anything.

Recent Comments by Interested Onlooker

Work on six storey accommodation complex to start in May
After the fiasco of the feral pest Yellow Rabbit let’s all hope that Mr Sitzler has nothing to do with the “art walls” on this ugly and over-scaled too high building.
I suppose nothing has been learnt from the squashed-on-site, glass-walled west facing monstrosity already inflicted on our town.

Gallery business case: still no answers to the big questions
An excellent analysis of the so-called ‘Business Case’. Particularly your sensitive understanding of the inappropriateness of a dominating building as an image for Mparntwe (so patently ignored in the case of the Supreme Court building which currently towers over our town). A beautiful glossy cover and elegant presentation cannot hide the huge task (and financial costs) ahead for the NT Government.

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