Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dear ACT Greens

Letter mailed to each of the four ACT Greens MLA on Tuesday 17 April 2012.

Dear Ms Hunter/ Ms Bresnan/ Ms Le Couteur/ Mr Rattenbury

On the weekend I received an email from Christine Milne requesting that all Greens supporters band together in the face of Bob Brown’s resignation and show the rest of Australia that ‘we are greater than the sum of our parts’.

As a Megalo supporter and frequent user, I would very much like the ACT Greens to prove this. A vague decision has been announced today about the Fitters Workshop, condemning it to be a barely-used community hall. This is a weak and spineless decision that will come back to haunt the Greens if it is implemented. The Fitters Workshop is only fit for a few kinds of music, and any attempt at speech in front of a group is completely lost in a baffle of noise. The government will pour money into its fit-out, only to have it under-used and eating up valuable resources. Is this sustainable? Is this sensible?

Alison Alder, Director of Megalo, has always made clear that once Megalo is in the space, they will always welcome interactions in the gallery area between themselves and the kinds of small music groups that want to use the acoustics (which will still exist). That is surely a very good way to use the space to its best advantage?

I am one of two Canberra representatives on the Print Council of Australia; I am an artist and I teach at Megalo and the ANU School of Art. Quite often during classes we talk politics and the issue of Megalo arises. Many of my students are young and will be voting for the first or second time in the next elections, both ACT and Federal. These young people are ripe for the Greens to pick, but they are shocked when my colleagues and I mention that this Megalo issue is not just a Liberal Party action but also a Greens action.

You are doing your party and your national reputation great damage through this intervention into Megalo’s future and the use of the Fitter’s Workshop. I urge you to reconsider your stance and support Megalo’s use of the space – well before the next election. This would make the Fitters Workshop into a community-spirited printmaking hub that will be the jewel of the Kingston Arts Precinct, and also prevent the acute embarrassment that will revisit whoever is in power in a few years when it is realized that the ‘multi-arts Fitters Workshop’ is a big useless resource-draining space.

I think the Greens have done good work in the ACT but your actions regarding Megalo are very disappointing. Please, as Milne requests, do show us that you are a party worth voting for.


This is the response.

Dear Caren

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the Fitters Workshop, as ACT Greens spokesperson on the Arts I am responding on behalf of the Greens MLAs.

As you may be aware, the Assembly Committee inquiring into the future use of the Fitters Workshop tabled its report on Monday 16 April. You can see the report at

The report recommended:

· that the Government re-consider its decision to install Megalo in the Fitters Workshop;

· that the Fitters Workshop be used as a multi-use arts and performance venue;

· that the money previously appropriated for Megalo’s move to the Fitters Workshop be used to provide alternative accommodation for Megalo within the Kingston Arts Precinct.

The ACT Greens fully support the recommendations of the Committee. As we have said repeatedly on the public record, the ACT Greens believe the Government failed to perform due diligence or adequate public consultation with regard to this project, and that the Assembly inquiry has provided the level of scrutiny and public debate that had been denied the project earlier.

As the Kingston Arts Precinct Master plan is still being considered, the ACT Greens believe now is the time to deliver a better development that accommodates more Canberrans’ visions for the area.

Thank you again for your correspondence on this matter.

Caroline Le Couteur MLA

There you go. Well, this post is my public prediction if they go ahead with the multi-arts space: it will be a major embarrassment for ALL the ACT political parties because it will prove totally unsuitable for multi-arts use. And BTW, it's bullshit about the 'inadequate public consultation'. There was the normal amount of advertising and public calls for suggestions, and both the music groups and Megalo had followed all the proper tendering applications. Humph.

For a REALLY GOOD angle on the situation, go to iconophilia.


Geoff said...

The saddest thing about the Drill Hall saga is the establishment once again of the (as you deftly put) spineless and weak 'please everyone' approach taken by the people we elect to make these decisions. Either provide the space to Megalo as promised OR create a arts/musical space - with a spine to run it (and consistently fill it) with enough interest from interstate to ensure that it does not remain a mostly empty space.

My understanding of the acoustics of the Hall indicate that yes, it is excellent for a very narrow band of unaccompanied musical use. I do not believe Canberra will sustain such a small musical component in the long-term. Why can't a purpose built structure be built that best suits the needs of a range of musicians(?) ... oh wait ... we have some of those already!

This decision is so vague and non-committal ... shame! Show some spine and make a decision ... a real one ... you know like a decision with accountability and responsibility.


Thanks :-)

The Elephant's Child said...

Oh yes, I have been hissing from the sidelines as well. And sadly backbones seem to have been sucked out of most of our politicians without regard to their party. More booing and hissing.

On a different note, there is an award for you on my blog, should you wish to stroll by.

birdmonkey said...

Well I guess the only thing we can tell our students is that its ok to vote differently at a state and federal level. I think this will go very badly. All the choral groups I know have tremendous problems getting an audience to anything- let alone enya or gregorian in a freezing shed. WEll we can do is look forward to the day when we can chant "told you so! told you so!"