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LETTER: Time for an art centre in Camden

It's missing something vital and essential to a healthy communal life.

Camden is missing a ‘cultural heart’ – an arts centre – for creative and performing arts.

When the Civic Centre opened in the mid-1970s Camden took a big step forward. Now called Camden Community Centre it runs a very active and varied programme as a fully booked multifunctional space including the presentation of the annual Camden Art Prize for more than 40 years.

But there is nowhere to spill a bit of paint. Nowhere to throw a bit of clay. No etching press for printmaking. No open sculpture garden. No music or dance studios. No workshop spaces. No specialist resource areas. No intimate theatrical space for locally produced performances.

The more recent council conversion of Macaria into the Alan D. Baker Gallery honours a local artist of international standing, his talent and contribution to the local area.

It is a precious space with very limited use as a multi-media workshop space and more suited to historical and heritage exhibitions available through the state travelling exhibitions program.

So we need a comprehensive arts centre, with many spaces, providing educational, exhibition, performance and creative activities for all age groups.

An ideal starting point would be the abandoned and neglected Camden Police Station which is central and ideal to support the town centre. It could be part of a multi-venue 'arts centre'.

Across the regions there are numerous examples of varied and exciting community arts centres from public funded to self-funded. Looking at these active examples will assist in setting a direction in designing an arts centre that suits Camden area.

Starting the 'arts centre' conversation is important as I know many locals have expressed interest for many years.

We need all politicians to participate in this discussion – even those with no interest in the arts.

We need to address the question of balance as our population booms highlighting concerns about unemployment, mental health and a lack of training opportunities with a disembowelled TAFE system.

There is no shortage of genuine energy and professional expertise available to invigorate the arts centre debate.

I challenge Camden councillors, state and federal politicians to support the local community in designing, planning and attracting funding for an arts centre for the whole community.

Greg Frawley,


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