Cultural vision for Sale

WELLINGTON Shire Council will make public its vision for the redevelopment of the Port of Sale Civic Centre into a new Gippsland Art Gallery and Sale public library on Monday morning.

Council will release a number of concept designs for the site redevelopment for eight weeks of public comment and consultation before drawing up final plans to convert its current offices into a new library, expanded and upgraded art gallery, public use facilities and office space for library and gallery staff.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting it was decided to set aside previous plans to develop a co-located library and art gallery next to Wellington Entertainment Centre, which council estimated would cost between $18 million and $24 million to develop, and instead redevelop the council-owned Port of Sale Civic Centre.

That redevelopment will be made possible through council’s recent purchase of the three storey office complex diagonally opposite its current location, bought in an administrator’s tender process for $3.95 million.

The civic centre’s location next to the entertainment centre is seen as providing Sale with an arts and culture precinct which could prove attractive to industries looking to locate to a regional city.

Cr Darren McCubbin emphasised the final plans would be developed from the input of the community and through interested organisations coming up with their ideas and wish lists for the new space.

“I say right from the outset we can’t be all things for all people; we have a budget we have to maintain, we have to be fiscally responsible, but at the same time we see this as a very exciting cog in creating in Sale and the Wellington Shire, if you like, the jewel of Gippsland,” he said.

Cr McCubbin said council had worked hard to develop a vision of Sale as the cultural hub of Gippsland with Aqua Energy, the entertainment centre and a library and art gallery precinct.

“That is important because it creates a liveable and exciting centre which people of all ages can enjoy,” he said.

Cr McCubbin said the civic centre building itself should be a reminder of the need for council to continue to invest in Sale’s public infrastructure, suggesting one of the reasons Esso left Sale was that the city no longer provided the cultural and sporting facilities major and multi-national firms’ executives demanded.

“In creating this space we are not just doing it to improve the cultural life of our citizens, we are not just doing it improve the opportunities for local artists, we are doing it because it is an economic driver.

“Because when businesses make their decision to relocate (to) our town they see a modern, vibrant exciting cosmopolitan town, a region that has full access to the services that everybody should normally expect,” he said.

“ We are not a sleepy backwater, we are indeed a town that deserves its title, as it had, as the capital city of Gippsland.”

Cr Caroline Crossley emphasised an investment in the arts was a pathway to create employment opportunities in an innovative and exciting industry.

She pointed out the Museum of Old and New Art was Tasmania’s prime tourist attraction.

“MONA is the single biggest driver for people to go to Tasmania … it has completely changed

the face of how people view Tasmania, in fact the coolest place to be in Melbourne on long weekends is down in MONA,” she said.

“ That’s the change the arts can make,” she said.