South Hobart community welcomes new arts and cultural hub

SOUTH Hobart locals are celebrating confirmation of state and federal government funding for the transformation of the former Macquarie Street primary school building into a community, arts and cultural hub.

The $2.3 million innovative arts and cultural centre will provide an affordable space for artists, groups and organisations and serve as a place for locals to meet, make new connections and undertake activities.

The Speaker of Tasmania’s House of Assembly, Elise Archer MP, and Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz joined members of the South Hobart Progress Association for the announcement last month.

The historic property, which dates back to 1895, was a school until 1964 and for the following 40 years predominantly served as an adult education facility owned by the Tasmanian Government.

The South Hobart Progress Association president, Dr Rosemary Sandford, said the group was overjoyed with the news of the redevelopment

“We have got a little way to go to translate these financial rewards into practice, but really, we could not have done it without the help of government,” she said.

Senator Abetz said he was pleased the infrastructure investment was moving forward.

“Not only will the construction work create jobs, the organisations that will use these facilities will contribute to employment locally, and jobs are expected to be created as their activities expand in the new facility,” he said.

“Further, Tasmanian artists and performers will have an affordable space to hold events and display their works showcasing the best Tasmania has to offer.”

Tenants expected to benefit from the new facility once improvements are completed include the Festival of Voices, the Tasmanian Writer’s Centre, Mature Age Dance Experience (MADE) and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.

Ms Archer, who first started lobbying for the restoration in 2009 as a candidate prior to being elected in 2010, said she was thrilled the much-loved local asset would finally be utilised.

“I have no doubt the hub will be a welcome addition to the South Hobart area for current residents, the broader community and future generations,” she said.

In 2011 Ms Archer presented a petition with more than 700 signatures to the Tasmanian Parliament calling for the site to be used as a community hub after it failed to sell on the open market.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government has now provided a grant of $600,000 from the proceeds of sale for much-needed renovations required for occupancy.

The Federal Government has provided $1.65 million for the purchase price.

The site will be owned and operated by an entity with the assistance of the Hobart City Council.

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