1 September 2022

Arts organisations release Founding Strategy for Kingston Arts Precinct

| Ian Bushnell
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Kingston Arts Precinct

The Kingston Arts Precinct site. Photo: ACT Government.

The Kingston Arts Precinct will be home to a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art space, six visual arts organisations and resident artists under a 10-year strategy released today (1 September).

The future resident arts organisations released the Founding Strategy, which is the result of a collaborative process with contributions from resident organisations, artists, arts workers and the community.

The new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art space, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Craft ACT, M16 Artspace and PhotoAccess, will join Canberra Glassworks and Megalo Print Studio as the founding resident organisations.

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Arts Minister Tara Cheyne said the Kingston Arts Precinct, which the government took back into its management after dropping Geocon as its development partner in November last year, will become the definitive destination for Canberra’s visual arts and culture with a dynamic program of creative activity.

She said the Strategy outlined the future operation of the Kingston Arts Precinct, its values, as well as its governance and staffing structures.

“Principles of elevating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural arts activity, hospitality, access, capacity building and cross-sector collaboration will be at the core of the future site,” Ms Cheyne said.

The government had begun work on forming an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reference group to guide the design and development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art space.

artsACT has been initially appointed as a precinct facilitator before governance and management become independent of government at a later stage.

The Founding Strategy has also guided the development of, and complements, the Kingston Arts Precinct Place Brief, which will inform the design of the future site and be finalised soon.

Feedback on the Place Brief, prepared by Place Design Group, is open now through a visual survey on the YourSay website.

Eleven people standing in a warehouse

Representatives of the Kingston Arts Precinct: From left: Georgia Hobbs (artsACT), Irena Sharp (Suburban Land Agency), Emerson Radisich (M16 Artspace), Stephen Payne (Megalo Print Studio), Elizabeth Rogers (Canberra Glassworks), Jodie Cunningham (Craft ACT), Jenni Kemarre Martiniello (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts Engagement Network), Kirsten Wehner (PhotoAccess), Arts Minister Tara Cheyne, Samantha Faulkner (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts Engagement Network) and Esther Anatolitis (Test Pattern). Photo: Richard Poulton.

Engagement regarding future development of the Kingston Arts Precinct, which includes the historic precinct and the arts hub, is ongoing and being managed by the Suburban Land Agency.

Megalo Print Studio moved to the Kingston site in 2013.

Board chair Dr Erica Seccombe said Megalo was excited by the strength and ambition of the new Founding Strategy for the precinct.

“Since we moved to our current premises on Wentworth Avenue in 2013, Megalo has experienced the tremendous potential of this site to bring our creative community together and we very much look forward to working with all the partners involved in this project as we bring it to life,” she said.

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The decision last year to sever ties with Geocon came after community organisations and the National Trust complained about a lack of progress on the project and feared for the site’s heritage values.

The Suburban Land Agency took charge of delivery of the project, saying the precinct had a range of heritage and design complexities that required the government to take the lead in developing the area appropriately.

The project timeline was reviewed with the completion date pushed back until 2025.

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