March 27, 2015  |  Adjournment matter

Incinerator Gallery

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie) — I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Creative Industries. The action I seek is that the minister reaffirm the Andrews Labor government’s strong commitment to arts and culture in Victoria and join me and the member for Essendon on a tour of the Incinerator Gallery, a building of heritage significance in my
electorate and an important arts hub that is in desperate need of funding.

The architect Walter Burley Griffin is well known for designing our nation’s capital. Lesser known is the story of how he and his wife, Marion Mahoney Griffin, designed industrial incinerators, one of which was built in Moonee Ponds in 1930 for the then Essendon City Council to dispose of the rubbish that was building up at the local council dump. It is the last of its kind in Victoria and one of very few remaining in the world.

Despite it being a beautiful example of the Art Deco style of the period, it is incredibly run down and in need of major funds. The Incinerator Gallery is a very important local arts hub in Melbourne’s north‑west, sitting on the banks of the Maribyrnong River. Having evolved from an industrial hub as a humble but state‑of‑the‑art incinerator that burnt the city’s rubbish, it has now established itself as a respected visual arts centre for Moonee Valley, attracting visitors from not only my local electorate and neighbouring areas but right across Melbourne. Unfortunately the relatively poor amenity for visitors and staff, as well as the deteriorating fabric of the building structure, means the gallery falls far behind the standards of many of the other galleries across Melbourne, and this has impacted in terms of its visual amenity and its ability to move up in the world of art galleries.

The costs involved in preserving such a heritage building, especially built heritage, are considerable, and this facility has been ignored for too long. However, it is very much worthy of a capital investment. I am pleased that the City of Moonee Valley has applied to the federal government through its National Stronger Regions Fund. I hope the minister will be able to support this important application.

The City of Moonee Valley has been advised, however, that due to issues with the building’s structure, extensive improvements are needed if the gallery is to continue its work.

I call on the minister to continue his great work in merging several key components in the creation of Creative Victoria. Going forward I am sure that the Andrews Labor government will continue to make sure we have a 21st century arts and culture policy. The minister is very much moving forward with this.

I invite him, once again, to take a tour of this important facility in my electorate and join me and the member for Essendon in advocating for the Incinerator Gallery to build upon the vision that has been articulated by the City of Moonee Valley to the federal government and to make this a 21st century arts hub right in the heart Moonee Ponds, right in the heart of the city of Moonee Valley, that we can all be proud of.

Mr FOLEY (Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing) — I thank the member for Niddrie for his contribution, and of course I will take him up on the opportunity to visit the Incinerator Gallery with him and the member for Essendon on the banks of the sunny Maribyrnong River in that lovely park, a facility I have been to many times over a number of years. As the member indicated, it is a heritage-listed Art Deco gem sitting in a previous
industrial facility now transformed into a community-based facility under the stewardship of the City of Moonee Valley. It was designed by the leading international and Australian-renowned architect Walter Burley Griffin and his wife. The heritage-listed facility has been the home of many local community-based innovative art programs and outreach programs for many years. I have been there on many occasions over the years to see such programs.

As the honourable member indicated, that is really at the core of what the creative industries portfolio is about. It is about how you take a cultural item or cultural facility at the heart of a community and you radiate out many levels of what we value. We value creativity in its own right. We value creativity as an opportunity to engage with communities, particularly those disadvantaged members of our community who would use the arts and culture as an opportunity to engage. Whether for therapeutic or any other purpose, we value bringing together opportunities driven by culture and creativity for our most vulnerable, people such as the clients and participants from the city of Moonee Valley who are part and parcel of the Incinerator Gallery.

As the member indicated, the creative industries portfolio is a new coming together of previously disparate parts of cultural activity in the state, whether it is the old Arts Victoria, Film Victoria or our design, fashion or digital economy strategies, all with a view
that from that cultural offering we can achieve much more than the sum of its parts. We aim to create a lens that takes us through community engagement, education engagement, disability engagement and economic opportunities. In that respect this is the kind of work we are happy to deliver. I am more than happy to arrange an opportunity for the members for Essendon and Niddrie.