Ahh. An old building is ripe for the taking in Canberra and everybody wants it. In this case at least ‘the arts’ got a look in from the outset, in line with the ACT Government’s dream that the Kingston foreshore should magically become an ‘arts precinct’. (Sarcastic? Me?)
Many of you will know that particular building to which I refer is the old fitter and turners workshop, in close proximity to the Canberra Glassworks (nee Kingston Power House). After much to-ing and fro-ing, it was recently announced that the space would be handed over to Megalo – the long-standing, hard-working Canberra print workshop and gallery that has toughed it out Watson for years. Read the story in the press HERE.
While many happily greet the news of this move there are naturally many jealous grumbles. As I understand it the space was coveted by a number of local music organisations – citing remarkable acoustic properties as a sign the building should be destined to them. I do not doubt this to be true but I’m not sure it’s a fair argument – there would be aspects of the building that could be found to perfectly fit any future use (loft apartment, anyone?). Typical to the arts is the inability of the various art forms to comprehend the relevance, importance or needs of one another in the arts community. This will never change, but it is a helpful to bear in mind.
Despondent musicians and organisations should perhaps focus their energies on identifying ways in which they might perhaps work with Megalo in its new home, as indeed with any other organisation housed in an interesting space. In recent years Canberra Contemporary Art Space has demonstrated what can be gained from collaborations between visual arts and music, lending their (also cavernous and old) exhibition space to musicians and sound artists in the form of a regular performance program. We’re all in this together, after all.
Congrats to Megalo, its staff and board on this exciting new era. Looking forward to the lakeside parties.