“We want Cairns to become known as the Arts Capital of Northern Australia” This was Mayor Bob Manning’s throw away line in a speech at the launch of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair in July 2016. That’s just over three years ago. Since then, we’ve made it the vision statement for our Strategy for Culture and the Arts 2022.
So How do you build an arts capital…
From just a provincial city
…far, far away…
Three weeks ago, while I was putting this presentation together, an email circulated round our branch of Cultural Services. We were in the middle of delivering Cairns Festival, we were all really busy, and so there weren’t a lot of responses to the email. Mostly “congratulations team” type messages from upper management.
So, I’m going to give this email the attention it deserves and read it to you.
To Whom It May ConcernI write to congratulate Cairns Council and to express my gratitude for the events of the Cairns Festival.
My husband and I attended the Funday Concert last night and we were so impressed at the caliber of performers who graced the stage for the evening concert. We specifically travelled down from Kuranda where we live to see Vika & Linda who we are big fans of and, as expected, they were fantastic. We thoroughly enjoyed their vibrant presence on stage and mellifluous voices. It was a perfect way to end up the weekend and as we drove home we passed by the library for the light show.
We have also booked tickets for the Jazz Under The Stars event this Friday night at the Botanic Gardens and we plan to see the JCU Light Moves at Lake Placid on Wednesday night.
We also intend to attend art exhibitions at the Tanks Arts space.As 'escapees' from Sydney, having moved here two years ago, we are so inspired by the vision and progressive agenda of Cairns Council in terms of events that promote the Arts and culture. We are so happy and lucky to live within easy access of all that Cairns has to offer.
We look forward to next year's festival as well as the other copious events that Council puts on along the Esplanade at other times during the year. Thanking you kindly Noreen
This is a picture taken at one of the events Noreen attended. You can see Noreen there, enjoying the tropical gardens. She’s brought her deck chair and picnic and her husband, and she’s met up with some friends. This is how we go out in Cairns.
This is Munro Martin Parklands, which opened in 2016 with a performance of the Barber of Seville by Opera Queensland. It was the first time they’d performed this production outdoors, but hey, this is Cairns and this is the way we go out. I took my children to this free concert. They found some friends and established themselves a children’s area, where they could run around and play. To this day, children still go to that area to find friends.
Other performances on this stage, which is the largest outdoor stage north of Brisbane have included the Royal Ballet and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, who for the first time, could bring their complete orchestra to Cairns, because, for the first time, we had a venue that could accommodate it.
This is some of the cast of Beginnings: A Musical Story of Cairns, which was a community production as part of Festival 2018 during the Commonwealth Games. More than 300 performers played to an audience of 3,500.
This is the new Cairns Performing Arts Centre, which opened in December last year with a gala night of mostly local acts – again, about 300 people on stage, with a big focus on youth…
…including a mass youth choir and a collaboration between NQ Philharmonic Orchestra and Cairns State High School Orchestra playing an original work called Symphony for Tomorrow.
The programming ethos for CPAC has a focus on youth, new collaborations and supporting our valued local performing arts in development and presentation of new work, alongside delivering the best of the Australian and international performing arts.
In our venues, we count bums on seats and feet on the stage. We don’t only develop audiences, we develop artists. And we are very interested in the transaction between artist and audience – and the transition from audience to artist.
If you were to draw a venn diagram of artist and audience, everyone in this photograph would fit in both circles.
It wouldn’t look like this.
It would look like this.
This is Mayor Bob Manning, and I’ll give you another quote from a speech he gave at the launch of CPAC. He said CPAC was the most modern theatre in the world, which, given it was opening night, wasn’t hard to prove. But in July this year, CPAC was shortlisted for an international award at the World Architecture Festival. CPAC is one of 18 buildings shortlisted in the Culture category. Four of them are in Australia: two in Sydney, one in Melbourne and one in Cairns!
This is our next big project. And I’m going to read directly from a statement from the Mayor’s office…
The Cairns Gallery Precinct will transform three existing heritage listed buildings within the Cairns city centre to create a dynamic and world class gallery precinct. The precinct would play a key role in the emergence of the entire Cairns city as one of Australia’s key arts and cultural destinations. This vision not only aims to build economic outcomes through tourism and community engagement in the arts, but is a celebration of the unique arts and culture created in Far North Queensland. The precinct will be a bold and iconic statement that firmly places Cairns as a community that values and supports the arts for the benefit of both residents and visitors.
The three heritage listed buildings are the existing Cairns Art Gallery, which is a triple A category facility, but maintenance of climate control in a heritage building is a challenge.
The Court House, which was operating as a pub until Council purchased it in 2016. We commissioned a heritage management plan, stripped it of all the add-ons and have just finalised architectural plans for a full heritage restoration. Right now, it is out to tender for building restoration and we should be operating this as an arts space this time next year.
And the old Mulgrave Shire building, which operated as a tourist information centre and until recently, as an arts space for UMI Arts.
So, this is the plan. As you can see, the new Cairns Gallery Precinct will connect three heritage buildings and a brand new, purpose built, state of the art gallery building, right in the centre of town, overlooking the Esplanade.
Key themes for the precinct include:
› An opportunity to re-think the traditional nature of ‘galleries’ and consider a new model that supports the night time economy of the CBD › A focus on activation that is not only world-class in terms of content, but builds a deep connection with the local community – workshop spaces, dedicated children’s gallery › A specific focus on celebrating and supporting contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts › Opportunities around building stronger relationships with State and National organisations to host ‘block buster’ touring exhibitions › Presentation of multi-arts events in varied spaces within the precinct including live performance and interactive exhibitions › Celebration of the heritage nature of the buildings › The use of the galleries to develop arts professionals in the region – including workshop spaces and ‘artist in residence’ activation › Offering a diverse range of arts experiences with a focus on outdoor and garden areas hosting changing public art
So that’s how we’re building the arts capital of Northern Australia. Venue by venue, event by event, artist by artist, audience by audience.
Cairns is not a just a provincial city, far, far away. It’s right here. For you, and all the escapees from Sydney and Melbourne to enjoy.
BUILDING AN ARTS
BUILDING AN ARTS
from just a provincial city
BUILDING AN ARTS
from just a provincial city, far, far away…
Key themes include:
re-think the traditional nature of ‘galleries’
contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait
host ‘block buster’ touring exhibitions
multi-arts events and interactive exhibitions
celebration of heritage
develop arts professionals in the region
focus on outdoor and garden areas