Local arts centres revitalised during COVID

A number of local arts centres around Canberra have been refurbished during COVID-19 as part of the ACT Government’s Fast Track program.

Watson Arts Centre was among 10 local arts centres and facilities that received a total of $701,000 worth of upgrades to help create local jobs and support Canberra’s local arts community.

Minister for the Arts Tara Cheyne said there were a range of upgrades undertaken to help improve accessibility, create more inviting studio spaces, remove hazardous materials, preserve heritage features and improve the energy efficiency of facilities as part of the program.

“During COVID, the ACT Government committed to supporting local businesses and creating jobs. The Fast Track program not only enabled local businesses to stay afloat, but it provided critical maintenance and upgrade works at our vitally important local arts centres.

“It’s wonderful to see local arts centres, like the Watson Arts Centre, benefit from this infrastructure program so organisations like the Canberra Potters Society can continue to provide a range of important access and engagement opportunities for artists and our community.

“Watson Arts Centre benefited from $145,000 in upgrades, which included a new heating and cooling system for the ceramic workshop space, a new foyer ceiling and insulation, fresh paint, bathroom refurbishments, accessibility upgrades, landscaping, new stairs, the removal of hazardous materials and new LED light fittings.”

More than 50 Canberrans from seven local businesses were engaged to deliver projects at a range of arts centres, which included:

  • The removal of hazardous material and bathroom upgrades at Strathnairn Homestead;
  • bathroom upgrades, new LED fittings and improvements to the heritage windows at Gorman + Ainslie Arts Centres
  • Drainage works to improve safety, new LED light fittings and a new shade sail for COVID-safe events at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre
  • Kitchen upgrades and the installation of a new digital signage screen at the Canberra Contemporary Arts Space in Manuka
  • Improvements to the foyer space, painting of the retail space and the installation of new flooring at the Canberra Glassworks
  • Bathroom upgrades at the Megalo Print Studio.

In addition, $617,000 was allocated to Fast Track projects managed by the Cultural Facilities Corporation, which included upgrades to the Canberra Theatre Centre.

This year the ACT Government has also committed $692,000 towards major upgrades to Ainslie Arts Centre, Gorman House Arts Centre, Strathnairn, Tuggeranong Arts Centre and Watson Arts Centre.

Quotes attributable to Richard Thomas, CEO of the Canberra Potters Society:

“Canberra Potters has been providing pottery experiences to the Canberra region for more than 45 years. From our facility at the Watson Arts Centre, we cater to an active community of pottery and ceramic enthusiasts from beginners to the professional artist. Our association has over 400 members and we teach over 1800 students each year.

“As we have grown so have our operational needs and we’re delighted to receive the recent upgrades to our facility. The improvements see us ready to continue our gallery and retail activities and support our members, artists and students in a comfortable and inviting environment.

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