Community arts hub opens in South Hobart

A NEW community and arts hub in South Hobart has finally become a reality following years of lobbying by local residents to keep the historic former South Hobart Primary School a community asset.

The ‘South Hobart Living Arts Centre’ was officially opened in mid-May by Liberal Senator for Tasmania Eric Abetz and Speaker of the House of Assembly and Liberal Member for Denison Elise Archer.

The $2.15 million redevelopment was a result of strong support from the federal, state and local governments.

The State Government supported the establishment of the centre through the sale of the site and a grant of more than $500,000, with the Federal Government committing funds of $1.65 million to the development in 2015 after undertaking a feasibility study.

The redevelopment included the installation of solar panels and new audio-visual equipment, as well as 35 parking bays on site that will be available for lease.

The centre will also offer affordable office spaces, rehearsal spaces and performance venues for artists, arts organisations and community groups.

South Hobart Progress Association president Rosemary Sandford said the group never gave up hope that the centre would one day become a reality.

“After nine years of campaigning, it is both a joy and a huge relief to have saved our old school in community ownership for future generations,” she said.

“It is a great example of what all levels of government working together can achieve.

“It builds on our common ground, focusing on the positives of working collaboratively, rather than on what divides us.

“Federal, state and local government all contributed funding, resources and immense goodwill for which South Hobart is very grateful.

“It will be a community hub of energy and creativity in which all members of the South Hobart and surrounding communities can participate in one way or another.”

The project has also been supported by the City of Hobart with planning and other advice provided.

Independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie said the new centre would be a vibrant community and cultural hub and a great asset for South Hobart.

“This beautiful Henry Hunter designed heritage building was at real risk of falling into disrepair or being snapped up by a corporate buyer, so it’s good to see it in safe hands,” he said.

“I congratulate everyone who has worked hard to make this a reality and particularly the South Hobart Progress Association who strongly campaigned for the project.

“It just goes to show that members of the community can have their voice heard in Canberra.”

Senator Eric Abetz welcomed the opening of the new South Hobart Living Arts Centre and said it would build stronger links between the South Hobart community and the arts sector.

“This centre will provide the community with another place to learn about art, see the works of local and overseas artists and to undertake training,” he said.

“I am pleased that this heritage building will have a new purpose in continuing to serve the community.

“It’s great to see such an important community asset reopen to the public and I am sure local businesses and residents will enjoy the new visitors to the area.”

Ms Archer said the centre would offer modern facilities and a space for casual and ongoing community and cultural engagement.

“Personally, I’m very excited to see this project’s progression, having advocated strongly for it on behalf of the South Hobart Progress Association and other stakeholders since 2009,” she said.

The South Hobart Living Arts Centre is located at 408 Macquarie Street, South Hobart.

Caption: Speaker of the House of Assembly and Liberal Member for Denison Elise Archer with South Hobart Progress Association president Rosemary Sandford at the opening of the South Hobart Living Arts Centre.

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