Busy Arts Hub Under Threat !

Published On January 30, 2014 | By Bernadette Ashley | Artgaze, News, Organisations, Performance

Dear Townsville City Mayor and Councillors,

Representatives of local media, 

and representatives of Full Throttle Theatre Company, Props Youth Theatre Company, Artgaze Magazine, TMPAS,

I wish to express my concern at the news that the Old Courthouse Theatre has been put up for tender. According to quotes attributed to a Council Spokesperson in the Townsville Sun, it is because it is ‘not being used to capacity’ and ‘there is not consistency in its use’. Whoever made those assertions has obviously not been to The Courthouse in a long time, and cannot possibly have seen the calendar of prior, current, and upcoming events. The venue is being used to capacity and with consistency of purpose, as a base for a range of cultural activities for children, youth and adults.

It is an incubator for local talent. Young musicians have performed there, and launched careers there (Kate Martin, Elle Graham, Luke Thomas, to name a few); Props has nurtured several young actors into NIDA and WAAPA. Music film clips have been made there, music events streamed live to the world from there, bands rehearse there, workshops held there, arts networking occurs there, friendships and mentorships are formed there, interns have gained industry experience there, countless hours of volunteering are completed there.

In the past two years I have personally been to the Old Courthouse regularly, daytime and evenings, for TMPAS bands and open mike sessions, Artgaze Cult Classic Film Nights, Artgaze Board meetings, Full Throttle and Props productions, a sign painting workshop with Art Spaced, JCU graduating students’ Creative Exchange Events, a photographic exhibition, and several CD launches. I cannot think of any other single venue which so accessibly and vibrantly expresses, houses, and exhibits Townsville’s grassroots cultural richness, and to put that at risk would be a retrograde move.

Please explain what putting The Courthouse up for tender is meant to achieve, other than compromising its accessibility to the many local arts and cultural organisations who currently call it home?

Yours sincerely,

Bernadette Ashley

President Artgaze Lab Inc

(former Arts Columnist for the Townsville Bulletin)


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About The Author

A former journalist with a degree in Visual Arts and a decade's experience in street latin dancing, Ashley is active in many aspects of the Townsville cultural community as an arts and dance writer and reviewer, dance teacher, choreographer and performer, artist, facilitator, board member and collaborator. She has reviewed visual, new media arts and dance for niche arts publications such as Realtime and Imprint, and was the Galleries columnist for the Townsville Bulletin from 2010 until 2012. Ashley is the mother of three sons - one mathematician/physicist and two artist/writers - is obsessed with Cuba, drinks too much coffee, and would like to master Argentine Tango by the time she reaches 80.

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