Arts in the Central Highlands continues to grow

Arts continue to grow in the Central Highlands Region. PHOTO: Windslash

Central Highlands Regional Council General Manager Connected Communities John McDougall said the council began exploring options in 2018 to “develop the Emerald Library, community gardens, and surrounding bushlands into a multipurpose arts precinct”.
“To include [the] community in developing a concept, council sought ideas and feedback from local stakeholders and conducted a survey January – February 2019,” he said.
“The input received [help] to inform a draft masterplan.
“Due to logistical challenges identified in the planning process, further development of the master plan was deferred to 2021.”
The arts precinct project would seek to support the local economy and artists, grow arts, heritage and cultural tourism and appreciation, provide access to the arts, heritage, and cultural activities and modern library services, create a welcoming and inclusive space and enhance community wellbeing and encourage diversity.
A report on the project is expected to be tabled at a council strategy meeting this August.
“The project is in the feasibility and planning phase, which means no budget or timelines have been allocated yet,” Mr McDougall said.
“If endorsed by council, this would be a long-term project implemented in several phases.”
Work on the area to unify and promote the regions’ arts culture was already underway with the ongoing Mosaic Table project.
The project, jointly funded by CHRC and the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF), saw the community’s various art groups work together to design new tabletops for the park.
The Emerald Art Group, the Emerald Photography Club, the Emerald Patchwork Group, and the Emerald Pottery Group all contributed designs to the project.
Project organiser Sharon Gimbert said the project helped to bring the various groups together.
“The top three [tables], art, patchwork, and pottery, were done pretty much all together, but we had a lot of people working on them,” she said.
“Plus, we had some new people that just wandered into the park and said, ‘can we help?’.
“It connects these groups because it brought in a sort of joint thing.”
Mr McDougall said the group and the design for the final table was yet to be confirmed.
“The scope of this project was to partner with groups that use the precinct to beautify the area and promote the diversity of the space,” he said.
“The groups have each created their own mosaic designs for the tabletops, representing their respective art or activity.”
Mrs Gimbert said work on the final table was ongoing.
“[It’s] going to have a dance theme,” she said.
“We’re looking at possibly doing that with a youth group.”
Mr McDougall said the project would be completed once the final table was finished and some maintenance works were carried out.