Our new logo

Its been a long hard road but sometimes it is good to look back at what you have achieved. Sometimes i forget just how long it has taken to get me where i am today....which is not un-like where i was before....

Seven years ago i was hairdressing and doing my BA at Uni. Majoring in history and Contemporary arts. I had a feeling of absolute dread with the thought of Uni finishing and going back to my home town to whittle away at my own arts practices with no one else to bounce off. I decided that no one else was going to help out with my situation so i had better do it myself. I decided the answer was to start a community house for the arts.

An opening crowd at one of our first exhibitions

I went to the council and had a meeting with our local communtiy officer in which i was offered a building to host my idea for six months, a trial. It looks as if some others had also proposed this idea to the council previously so it was not considered that i would actually make something of it, also my age and gender did not favor me well in a town run by males.
I gathered cheap furniture from a local school and greatfully accepted contributions from the public and my Nana and Pa, i then opened the doors to the public. We had a mid-warm response to the idea and opening and a few volunteers to help me and man the venue. I got encouraged by my lecturer  to do my Masters Of Contemporary Arts at Uni so i continued my studies and used the developing art centre as my thesis. I spent countless hours and days manning the centre, lonely  with no visitors and tapping away at my thesis (i got a HD for it in the end so it all paid off to some extent).
 Our current committee minus the president who was on errands.

I had a great off-sider back then in Khan (who rudely moved to Indonesia three years ago). He was a massive help to the running of the centre and the creation of additional  programs. The art center would not be what it is today with out his early contributions. For the first few years it was mainly just him and i pushing the project forward.
After a six month trial in our first building that lasted nearly two years the council decided that we had enough street cred to warrant a new and permanent space for us. I spent weeks painting, sanding floors and cleaning to get the new space to an opening stage, and open we did with great enthusiasm. We had a great crew of volunteers and there was a massive buzz in the air.
We wrote for and received many grants, some to put hanging rails on the walls, a lighting system and a monster surround stereo through the building, things were going fab.
Then Khan moved away, i got pregnant and volunteers lacked momentum of their own. It was very difficult to see the centre take a step back but i was so ill i just couldn't give it any more attention. The centre had to become a community project with community ownership or die. 
It faltered along for a year or so with a small but industrious committee helping out where they could. I am grateful to those people who never gave up. Most of them were with us in some way from the beginning and most are still on the committee today. Thankyou Alwyn, Bev and Alex, Tasmanian Regional Arts and Richard.

 Khan speaking at an Idonesian night with our artisit in residence from Indonesia.

Today at the centre we have a new committee (with old members as well) with renewed vigor. It was decided that the centre need to "start again". The building was redocorated and we got ourselves a new logo. We have a strong exhibition program, lots of groups utilizing the space and is home to the monthly artisans market Made with Love. I am currently working on a new web site so i wont post a link to that yet but if your interested google in a day or so.

Our second building before renos.

This post is getting quite long and i want to do another grateful post about my sewing girls soon so i will end it here. I just want to say thankyou and acknowledge that starting a community project takes a lot of sleepless nights, un-expected expenses, personal sacrifice, community involvement and support and hard hard work. Anyone wanting to start a project should always expect things to not go as plan and whatever you think it will take to complete money wise and planning/execution time you need to triple that (at the minimum). Hats off to those that make it in the end i understand what sort of commitment it takes, riding the highs and lows. It has taken the Centre seven years to get this far. My how time flies but i am so pleased and grateful for what it has become today. It goes to show that never giving up pays off and if you can see your vision through the hard time as well as the good then success awaits.

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Michelle Walker is a Tasmanian born creative. An Artist for life, Visual Arts Teacher, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Hairdresser by trade and mother to two beautiful children.