By Sally Walshe (AKA Lady Mohawk)

    The City of Maribyrnong has decided to remove a 700 square-metre Community Art Gallery from the plans of the Footscray library ‘Creative West’ redevelopment, located in the heart of Footscray. The revised concept plan however, appears to propose an expansion of the performance space, potentially accommodating 500 to 700 seated patrons, up from the previous 490.

    Local artists are in desperate need for an inclusive Community Art Gallery in Footscray, and the perfect place is in the centrally located Creative West redevelopment, together with the proposed library, a performance space, and landscaped gardens. A cultural hub would not only attract people to the Footscray Central Business District but also provide vital support to local businesses grappling with economic challenges.

    This year I produced the first ‘Show Your WEST-SIDE Art Exhibition and Prize’, drawing over 210 local artists and more than 400 attendees on opening night. Nicholson Street mall saw the fifth-highest foot traffic and spending throughout the year, indicating a thriving interest in the arts within the community and beyond.

    Despite this success, local artists currently lack a dedicated space within the City of Maribyrnong to showcase their diverse works. Frustrations have led some artists to seek opportunities outside the municipality, such as participating in exhibitions hosted by neighbouring councils.

    The absence of a dedicated community art gallery will not only limit cultural expression but also hinder the economic potential of Footscray. A central art gallery would draw people into the municipality, providing a platform for local artists, and subsequently supporting struggling businesses.

    Having an inclusive locally represented art gallery is not just about art; it’s about truly representing our community, helping connect and bring the community together, while also injecting life and money into our nearby struggling businesses.

    A dedicated art space is not only an investment in culture but also a strategy for economic revitalisation. As Footscray businesses face financial challenges, the call for thoughtful investment in the arts, in the Footscray CBD, is imperative for our community.

    The City of Maribyrnong could be the best municipality in Melbourne, with the Footscray CBD having a thriving cultural hub. The framework is there; what remains is a thoughtful investment in the local arts that will not only help arts and businesses survive but allow them to thrive. 

    Lady Mohawk petition link

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