Art out­let for empty spa­ces

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - BOBBI LEE HITCHON

Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil and Meri­dien Ma­rina are col­lab­o­rat­ing to cre­ate artis­tic op­por­tu­ni­ties out of empty space.

The part­ner­ship has launched its Beau­ti­ful Art Spa­ces Project at Ma­rina Mi­rage, open­ing re­tail space to com­mit­ted artists at min­i­mal costs.

Meri­dien Ma­rina op­er­a­tions man­ager Steve Burcher ex­plained that a pro­posed water­front rede­vel­op­ment plan is in the works with no clear launch date.

This yet-to-be-an­nounced con­struc­tion means the ma­rina is un­able to of­fer leases to in­ter­ested busi­nesses, with the re­sult quiet hall­ways and empty stores in prime re­tail space.

“Bot­tom line is we’ve got a bunch of dead shops we need to find a dif­fer­ent way to fill,” Mr Burcher said. “So we’ve got to think out­side the box.” Af­ter toss­ing up the idea of build­ing a wall to block off an empty wing of the ma­rina, talks with mem­bers of the Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil led Meri­dien to try a more cre­ative op­tion.

Meri­dien Mi­rage will open up about eight of its shops for artists to use as re­tail and stu­dio space.

Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil has pro­vided an ap­pli­ca­tion form on its web­site.

“We want a di­verse range of artists and we want a com­mit­ment from these artists,” Mr Burcher said.

Port Dou­glas-based artist Che is one of the first to make the move into a stu­dio space and will open an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Ma­rina in the com­ing weeks.

“It’s fab­u­lous to be af­forded qual­ity space to present my work as an artist,” he said.

Mr Burcher said the com­mit­ment can be a num­ber of days to stay open a week, nom­i­nal rent or per­cent­age of turnover.

This com­mit­ment is in place not for Meri­dien to earn money from the project but to en­sure that artists are us­ing the space for more than stor­age, with their pres­ence liven­ing up a sleepy space and stim­u­lat­ing lo­cal busi­nesses.

“This is be­ing pi­o­neered in other places,” Mr Burcher said.

“It’s hard to quan­tify the suc­cess but most agree it’s a sub­stan­tial strat­egy mak­ing use of dead com­mu­nity space.

“But it also stim­u­lates the econ­omy in places that peo­ple don’t nec­es­sar­ily think art is linked.”

Artists in­ter­ested in the Beau­ti­ful Art Spa­ces project at Ma­rina Mi­rage should visit www.cairns.qld.gov.au and fill out an artist ap­pli­ca­tion form.

Photo by HOLLY ROBERT­SON

Beau­ti­ful spa­ces: artist Che is pre­par­ing for an ex­hi­bi­tion in a dis­used re­tail space at Meri­dien Ma­rina

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