Community event to celebrate Court House opening

At a glance

  • Free community Open Day, 19 February from 4pm to 9pm
  • Family-friendly, no ticket required, check-in with QR code on site
  • Food and licensed bar on site – no cash, contactless payment only
  • Three exhibitions inside
  • Live performances on the lawn outside

The doors to the newly refurbished Court House will be thrown open to the public later this month with a free community Open Day.

Council is inviting the community to explore the historic building and the surrounding grounds at a public opening on Friday 19 February, from 4pm to 9pm.

The heritage listed building was officially opened late last year by His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, following an $8.28 million restoration and refurbishment.

A grant of $2.1 million from the Australian Government’s Regional Jobs Investment Package assisted with the project.

“The opening of The Court House provides an opportunity to enhance art and cultural experiences to a greater audience,” Mayor Bob Manning said.

“This building will house a dynamic program of events and exhibitions for years to come, that will help drive the city’s cultural offerings.”

The Open Day will make full use of the revitalised lawn area outside the main entrance, with live music by Bobby Alu, Nikki Doll & The Mambo Swing, and Torres Strait hip hop artist MauPower, while food vendors and licensed bars will be incorporated into the festivities.

As part of the opening, the eastern side of Abbott St (The Court House side) from the corner of Shields St to the Three Wolves Alley will be closed from 5am until midnight. Two-way traffic will be possible on the western side of Abbott St.

Three exhibitions involving Indigenous artists will kick off Cairns’ newest art space – From the Ground Up by Yarrabah Ceramics; Justicia by Bonemap; and Lore to Law by UMI Arts.

Also on display will be a selection of artefacts that were unearthed from the grounds during the refurbishment, including leg irons (prisoners’ shackles) and old glass bottles related specifically to Cairns manufacturing.

Cr Manning said The Court House was the second part of a four-part larger development, the Cairns Gallery Precinct, and called on the State and Federal Government to commit funding support for the project.

“When complete, the Cairns Gallery Precinct will link The Court House, Cairns Art Gallery, the Old Mulgrave Shire Council building (which needs to be refurbished), and a new world-class, purpose-built gallery,” Cr manning said.

“Arts experiences are a growing driver for tourism in Australia and are increasingly part of visitors’ itineraries.

“You only have to look at the success of MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) which opened a decade ago in Hobart and has been a key driver of revitalising the tourist industry in Tasmania.

“MONA has helped to not only bring more visitors to the state, but also brought in a more sophisticated and cultured quality of clientele.

“The Victorian government has also seen the potential in the arts and has allocated $1.4 billion for the new NGV Contemporary in Melbourne, which will be Australia’s largest gallery of contemporary art and design.

“Along with the obvious cultural benefits associated with improving the city’s artistic offerings, it also made good business sense.

“Authentic indigenous experiences are highly sought-after by national and international visitors.

“We are at the very forefront of providing a space to showcase such works, offer career pathways and be an inspiration for our youth, especially our indigenous youth, to pursue careers in the arts.”

Entry to the Open Day is free with COVID-19 contact via QR codes at the venue and only cashless payments will be accepted for food and drinks.

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