Richard Watts | ArtsHub | Friday 30th October 2015

The former TAFE college in Collingwood has received a $2 million basic upgrade, but the site is far from being tenant-ready.

The Collingwood site as viewed from the street; image via Arts Hub

Development continues at the planned Collingwood Arts Precinct, located on the site of the former Collingwood Technical School. Progress has been slow to date, with the ‘ridiculously high’ commercial rents established by the former Napthine Government one of several stumbling blocks requiring negotiation, according to a number of well-placed sources.

Site upgrades have recently been completed, and a new Board announced for the project. Recruitment of a CEO for the precinct is also underway.

‘We have just completed $2 million of works on the unoccupied section of the site, located at 35 Johnston St. These works were basic upgrades aimed at halting degradation and improving safety. In addition to the building works, we have also been working on a major project to explore how these buildings could be used in future,’ said Creative Victoria in a recent statement.

A new charitable social enterprise entity, known as Contemporary Arts Precincts Ltd (CAP) has been established to supervise the site’s re-development into ‘a vibrant, cross-disciplinary cultural precinct’ occupied by an array of arts and cultural organisations.

The site is intended to feature a range of contrasting and complimentary spaces and experiences, including artist-run spaces, studios, galleries, performance spaces, cafés, bars and open educational spaces.

When complete, the site is also expected to host a regular program of workshops, performances, exhibitions and other activities. It already hosts the permanent home of Circus Oz, and a heritage-listed mural by the late Keith Haring.

Businessman and philanthropist Daniel Besen has been appointed Chair of the CAP Board; its remaining members are:

  • Barbara Hyman, REA Group’s Executive General Manager of People and Culture
  • Charlotte Day, Director, Monash Museum of Art
  • Stephen Carpenter, Partner KPMG
  • Ross Paterson, Partner, Arnold Bloch Leibler
  • Richard Evans, arts consultant and former CEO of the Sydney Opera House
  • James Tutton, property developer and social entrepreneur
  • Esther Anatolitis, Director, Regional Arts Victoria.

The Board has already begun the recruitment process for an inaugural CEO, with the position advertised in The Australian and The Age last Saturday.

The previous Napthine Government announced $4 million in funding for the Collingwood Arts Precinct in November 2014, shortly before the state election which saw the Coalition voted out and a Labor Government installed.

Arts spokesperson for the Andrews Government, Martin Foley, Minister for Creative Industries, confirmed support for the Collingwood Contemporary Arts Precinct in January this year.

ArtsHub first reported on plans for the proposed contemporary arts precinct in 2013, and will continue to follow the story as it develops.

IMAGE CREDIT: image via Arts Hub