There are some who only see the Park as a commercial opportunity for a private operator. The loss to the community would be considerable.
Some people think supporting Gasworks is money wasted.
So, what would we lose if Port Phillip did not support the Arts Park?
The Park is a place where people gather. Some may simply do this for exercise, to walk their dog or to wander around and enjoy the charming interplay of heritage buildings, natural vegetation and landscape.
Others come for the art—visiting, viewing or participating in events in the visual and performing arts, classes and workshops. They percolate in and out of the buildings to enjoy and view, watch what is happening, meet up for a coffee. It's an open, sharing environment.
And in the viewing of art and in the interchange about it, the sense of community can be strengthened.
In its pre-amalgamation days as part of the City of South Melbourne, the decision was taken to make the Park a place of both passive recreation and active arts. The City of Port Phillip has continued to lend financial support to the development and presentation of professional and amateur cultural work, community-based art, and projects from both within and outside Port Phillip. Without that financial support it would not exist.
A community without artists working in it is only half-alive. Their work enlivens us, feeds our imaginations, helps us know ourselves and others. Providing spaces to do that is Gasworks mission. It combines fostering artists in their processes, presenting their work to the community at large and creating possibilities for community participation.
Gasworks is a generous host. The farmers' market draws thousands every month. During school holidays it is the site of a much valued children’s school holiday program. Regular 'paint outs' attract both amateur and professional artists to capture the Park. Another program invites amateurs and professionals to install environmental interventions which enhance, extend or make strange aspects of the Park. Community groups show their work on the walls of the theatre foyer and the corridor to the café.
There are some in the community who would reduce all of this to mere 'entertainment' that should not be subsidised by Port Phillip Council or is someone else's responsibility. They only see the Park as a commercial opportunity for a private operator. The loss to the community would be considerable.
To get a sense of how widely the Park serves the communities of Port Phillip and beyond, these are some of the groups that have used it: STAR Health, Port Phillip Housing Association (now Housing First), Sacred Heart Mission, Emerald Hill Art Group, Rhed - Resourcing Health and Education in the Sex Industry for Amnesty International, Launch Housing, Life Models Society, Port Phillip Community Group, Yarramunua Gallery of Indigenous Art
And sometimes the Park is quiet – and don’t we want that also?
Think of all this.
Think what it would be like to lose— or defund, or commercialise—the generous publicly owned place that allows all this to happen.
See response from Tamara Jungwirth, director and ceo Gasworks Arts Park.