Art group served evic­tion no­tice

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

A spat be­tween a prom­i­nent Pil­bara art group and Abo­rig­i­nal cor­po­ra­tion has been made pub­lic after the art group re­ceived an evic­tion no­tice from its cor­po­ra­tion-owned build­ing.

Roe­bourne Art Group has oc­cu­pied the Ngar­li­yarndu Bindirri Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion’s North West Coastal High­way premises in Roe­bourne for no charge based on what it claims is an un­writ­ten un­der­stand­ing of per­ma­nence for the group. RAG chief ex­ec­u­tive Wider­strom said the 30-day evic­tion no­tice had come as a shock to the group.

Mr Wider­strom said NBAC’s main­te­nance of the build­ing had been in­suf­fi­cient, claim­ing the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing roof was al­low­ing wa­ter inside which was dam­ag­ing the art.

“I be­lieve this has oc­curred now be­cause when my staff con­tin­ued to ex­press their con­cern about wa­ter com­ing out of power points and sim­i­lar health and safety is­sues, I asked Worksafe to have a look at the build­ing,” he said.

“It seems to me that be­ing forced to un­der­take work they don’t want to do — and which wouldn’t be their re­spon­si­bil­ity if the build­ing had been vested in us when we first raised that as a so­lu­tion years ago so we could be­gin seek­ing fund­ing — they have de­cided to or­der us out as a puni­tive mea­sure.”

NBAC chief ex­ec­u­tive Su­san Shirtliff said the evic­tion no­tice was trig­gered by the need to carry out the up­grades to the build­ing pointed out by Worksafe. “Un­der­tak­ing the up­grades will re­quire the prop­erty to be va­cated, due in large part to the need to pro­tect the art it­self,” she said.

“NBAC are keen to main­tain the build­ing through a stan­dard land­lord/ten­ant ar­range­ment at a gen­er­ous pep­per­corn fee.

“The art group have not been will­ing to en­ter into such an ar­range­ment, which is un­for­tu­nate.”

RAG has put out a plea to the com­mu­nity to help find a tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion to store its art­works and run ba­sic of­fice fa­cil­i­ties.

Mr Wider­strom said with­out sup­port, the group might have to be dis­solved.

“We don’t have huge needs — some­where to store, and ide­ally ex­hibit, the art, space for a small of­fice, power and in­ter­net,” he said. “We’re des­per­ate for some­where to sur­vive, but time is run­ning out.”

Mr Wider­strom said a new build­ing was in the works but could still be two years away from be­ing built.

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