Back to square one for Fitters’ Workshop

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MEGALO Print Studio says “good government” would stick with its original decision and allow the group to move into the Fitters’ Workshop in Kingston and “not bow to an unholy alliance of Green and Liberal interference”.

The comments were made in response to the report into the future of the Fitters’ Workshop made by the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs, which found the space has acoustic qualities for musical performance that justifies a ” re-examination of the decision to convert the building for use exclusively as a print studio and workshop”.

The committee that consists of Liberal member Jeremy Hanson, Labor member Mary Porter and chaired by Greens member Amanda Bresnan, made five recommendations on the future of the Fitters’ Workshop, including the recommendation that the Government suspend its decision to make the Fitters’ Workshop a print studio and instead use the workshop as a multi-use arts and performance venue.

“The report released today by the Standing Committee inquiring into the future use of the Fitters’ Workshop demonstrates that the Committee is not as wise and far-sighted as the Gallagher Government,” the statement from Megalo Print Studio said.

“Two of the three Committee members have recommended that a highly suitable and timely use of the Fitters’ Workshop be sacrificed in favour of a multi-purpose use that ensures mediocrity for all potential users.

“The Committee recommendations are made despite clear evidence that shows the alleged acoustic virtue of the space suits only a very narrow range of musical performance and severely limits any other broad activity.

“Megalo calls on the Gallagher Government to affirm and proceed expeditiously with its properly made decision for Megalo to move to the Fitters’ Workshop.

“Good government in this case is to stick with its original decision and not bow to an unholy alliance of Green and Liberal

The report also recommended the Government respond within 30 days and that the funding made available for the conversion of the Fitters’ Workshop be retained for the construction of the purpose-built building for Megalo at the Kingston Arts Precinct.

“The Committee also concludes that the acoustic qualities appear to be suitable for the performance of particular forms of musical performance, particularly choral music, and that it is essential that consideration be given to the continuation of the building as a venue for the performance of music,” the report says.

“This conclusion is subject to it being possible to make provision in the building for appropriate proper seating, equipment and other alterations and changes necessary to make it a modern and usable venue.”

The report also stated the planned changes to the Fitters’ Workshop would alter the “building fabric” and if carried out “prohibit musical performance in the main building space”.

“The Committee is convinced that Fitters’ Workshop is a unique space within Canberra’s premier arts precinct and that it should be considered for use as a facility with wider availability, especially as a musical venue to capitalise on its unique acoustics and applied for that purpose,” the report says.

However, committee member and MLA Mary Porter did not support the majority of the report and in dissenting comments said the process had been “contaminated by the way the various matters have been prosecuted in the media, vested interests and by non members of the committee who have attended the hearings”.

“I believe that Megalo has acted in good faith, along with the ACT  Government. Therefore regardless of what the majority view of the committee is, I believe that it is not desirable for this process to be yet again delayed; and for Megalo to be left to an uncertain future,” she said.

“It would take some time for any alternative to be found to house Megalo. I am also concerned that there is no organisation on the basis on which the  suggested use of the workshop i.e. a mixed use space can go ahead.

“I feel it will fall  into the same unfortunate use as Albert Hall suffered for many years, which will be the worst of all outcomes.”

The inquiry started in February and included five public hearings with 27 witnesses speaking, and 56 submissions.

To read the report click here.


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