Council has painted a $3 million arts project

By Riverine Herald

CAMPASPE Shire Council has adopted a masterplan to develop a $3 million art space in the Port of Echuca but delayed its implementation for up to nine months.

Speaking at last month’s council meeting, deputy mayor Vicki Neele said council needed to approve an arts policy and strategy before making the arts hub a reality.

But that move received significant backlash from her fellow councillors.

‘‘We’re well on the way with our arts policy and strategy so this is just delaying this until that earlier piece is done,’’ Cr Neele said at the meeting.

Her recommendation was not welcomed by Cr Neil Pankhurst, however, who said he was ‘‘staggered’’ at how often council could delay its decision-making surrounding items relating to the Port of Echuca.

‘‘Whenever council is dealing with something around the port precinct ... we have to put blockers up, put delays in place, hold things over,’’ he said.

‘‘Council actually has to make decisions about things to provide some certainty for the community.’’

The Echuca Creative Art Space Plan sets out key opportunities for the area which houses several council-owned buildings including The Murray Hotel, The Foundry and The Old Brothel, the surrounding open space and Little Hopwood Street.

Development of the plan was a key component of the Echuca Port Precinct Strategy, which identified the development of an arts and culture, events and entertainment hub as a significant strategic outcome.

Cr Weston said a robust stakeholder and community engagement process underpinned development of the plan to ensure it reflected the needs and ambitions of the user and interest groups.

‘‘Members of our arts, youth, tourism, education and business sectors, together with members of the general community and visitors, shared their views and aspirations to create a precinct that acknowledges and supports varied arts and cultural pursuits, and attracts people of all ages and interests,’’ Cr Weston said.

‘‘The engagement process highlighted how highly regarded this area is to our community and through this plan, we now have a strategic framework to bring their aspirations to fruition over time with the appropriate funding support.’’