By Molly Magennis
West Melbourne has received a huge boost for its creative sector, with Footscray Community Arts receiving an investment of $8.7 million, as outlined in the 2022/23 state budget.
Established in 1974, Footscray Community Arts is one of Australia’s oldest independent arts districts and a mainstay for artists and creatives in the west.
On Tuesday, May 3, it was announced that the Arts District would be one of many small and medium-sized organizations revealing improvements under the state governments’ Creative Infrastructure Program.
In 2019, Footscray Community Arts launched a precinct plan project with support from Creative Victoria and the Maribyrnong Council to try to understand how creativity and community could be sustained despite rapid growth and gentrification in the west.
The investment will begin the first stage of the neighborhood plan recommendations, which includes converting the neighborhood’s outdoor amphitheater into a modern outdoor venue.
This redevelopment will be able to facilitate quality and accessible outdoor experiences as well as honor the importance of the area for First Nations.
The second stage of the plan hopes to address Footscray Community Arts’ indoor facilities to ensure the wider community will have access to high-quality, culturally safe spaces.
Footscray Community Arts executive director Robyn Gawenda said the significant investment was an important statement from the government.
“This is the largest one-time investment ever made in Footscray Community Arts,” she said.
“The cultural fabric of the western suburbs is built on community ties and creativity, it is essential that crucial community infrastructure like Footscray Community Arts be championed, invested in and supported as the west thrives.”
Creative Industries Minister Danny Pearson said Victoria’s art galleries, museums and theaters are what draw thousands to the state each year.
“We are supporting Victoria’s multi-billion dollar creative economy so it can continue to provide the jobs Victorians need and the cultural experiences they love.”