20 April 2023

Call for new CIT to provide arts oasis in Woden's cultural desert

| Ian Bushnell
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Woden CIT

An artist’s impression of the Woden CIT’s boulevard. The Council says an arts space could open out onto the plaza. Image: ACT Government.

The development of the Woden CIT offered a perfect opportunity to create a community arts space for the Town Centre, according to the Woden Valley Community Council.

Council President Fiona Carrick has launched a Legislative Assembly petition, sponsored by Liberal MLA Ed Cocks, calling for a multi-purpose arts facility to be included in the CIT building.

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The petition says a visual and performing arts and music venue would complement the CIT, encourage local activity on our streets and provide confidence to the private sector to establish a day and night economy in the core of Woden.

It calls on the government to investigate options to include a multi-purpose arts facility in the proposed CIT, particularly opening up on to the west plaza to activate the core of Woden.

Ms Carrick said that when it came to arts and culture, Woden was the forgotten Town Centre of Canberra.

She agreed that the government might think Woden was close to the city and its venues and not too far from Tuggeranong and its arts centre.

“They are thinking that way, but they are neglecting the needs of this hub to be active for the community,” Ms Carrick said.

“We can drive anywhere but it doesn’t create community here.”

Fiona Carrick

Woden Community Council president Fiona Carrick: this is the perfect opportunity to bring culture and fun to the streets of the Town Centre. Photo: File.

Ms Carrick said the success of the recent Creative Woden art exhibition at Lovett Tower demonstrated the appetite for art in the local community.

“The proposed Woden CIT provides a perfect opportunity to bring culture and fun to the streets of the Town Centre,” she said.

The Council was not proposing a standalone facility or an expensive new building but a ground floor space that would foster local music, visual and performing arts, and al fresco dining that would contribute to bringing a ‘vibe’ to the core of Woden.

“We have the opportunity to facilitate day and night commercial activity around an arts/street theatre space through the development of the CIT,” Ms Carrick said.

“Why wouldn’t we do it?”

She said an arts space also made sense given CIT offered visual arts, music and photography courses.

“If you create a cultural space that had a commercial side to it through food and drink, with al fresco dining and could spill out into the core of Woden where everyone would see it as you walked passed, it will create opportunities for a lot of local creatives to do their thing,” Ms Carrick said.

She lamented that the government seemed to think the private sector would provide facilities for the Town Centre, but it won’t if there’s no money to be made.

“They’re not interested in providing facilities for the public good,” Ms Carrick said.

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But the CIT – a government building – provided such an opportunity.

Mr Carrick said the Council supported the government’s Arts, Culture and Creative Policy to 2022-2026, which sought to create amazing art and culture everywhere, at any time, for everyone.

“I don’t know why they have never been interested in providing a facility for Woden,” she said.

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Probably could work, if there was somewhere to park your car

Gregg Heldon7:13 am 24 Apr 23

Maybe the CIT can have a Transit Bar or Basement type venue for bands. Just like the old ANU refectory.

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