10 February 2023

Millions in extra renovation funding secured for historical Canberra sites

| Claire Fenwicke
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Gorman House

Gorman House Arts Centre will benefit from both ACT Government and Commonwealth funding. Photo: Chief Minister Andrew Barr Facebook.

Almost $12 million in extra funding has been secured for upgrades to two of Canberra’s historical facilities as part of plans to secure the Territory as the country’s arts capital.

The ACT Budget Review will provide an additional $3.9 million for the Lanyon Homestead and $7.9 million for the Gorman House Arts Centre.

The Gorman House Arts cash builds on the Federal Government’s commitment of $5 million from its October Budget, bringing the total funding secured to $12.9 million.

The funding comes as the centre prepares to celebrate its centenary next year.

READ ALSO Federal Government reviving the nation’s arts and cultural policies

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said government investment in these spaces would ensure they could continue to provide important spaces for artists.

“Canberra’s unique heritage and arts facilities are an important part of our story,” he said.

“Improving and restoring our heritage sites also supports jobs and provides additional tourism experiences for those visiting our region.”

The Gorman House Arts Centre needs to undergo “comprehensive renovations”, including improvements to the theatre and performance spaces, updating accessibility and safety, and enhancing energy efficiency.

The ACT Heritage-listed Lanyon Homestead money will go towards upgrading key access roads, conservation works on buildings in the Shearer’s Precinct and turning the sleeping quarters into artist spaces.

That’s in addition to $951,000 over four years previously announced in the 2022-23 ACT Budget.

Arts Minister Tara Cheyne said this investment would create more chances for locals and visitors alike to appreciate the ACT’s history and heritage.

“Both Lanyon Homestead and the Gorman House Arts Centre are important places for local artists and the wider community; this investment will help to improve access to these sites and enhance their safety,” she said.

“The former Shearer’s Sleeping Quarters at Lanyon Homestead will be fully restored and adaptively reused as spaces for artist studios within a beautiful natural setting sure to inspire artists and visitors alike.

“The Gorman House Arts Centre upgrades will include a high-quality performance space, dedicated dance and theatre rehearsal and workshop spaces, new café space and studios that support a social and collaborative atmosphere.”

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Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres director Carly Davenport Acker said they hoped the upgrades would set the facility up for another 100 years of service.

“It has been four decades since the spaces were first converted for arts use. In this time they have been key spaces for the development of multiple artists, arts organisations and the arts community across all disciplines,” she said.

“The needs of the sector have changed drastically over this period, and many of the spaces, whilst well used and well loved, are quite dilapidated.

“Renovations will bring them up to the standard that our resident artists, organisations and the ACT Arts Sector deserve, increasing community participation, access and raising the profiles and practices of the Centre’s artistic community.”

It’s also hoped building a café onsite will turn the courtyards into more welcoming spaces for people to gather and invite those passing by to explore everything the centre has to offer.

Community consultation, including with resident arts organisations, has already begun.

Work is due to start this year and builds on the ACT Government’s Statement of Ambition for the Arts.

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