Baaka’s Cultural Canvas

As construction on Wilcannia’s Baaka Cultural Centre gets underway, attention has now been drawn to the artworks and artefacts that the Centre will display after its expected opening, slated for the end of 2024, in the latest of a series of developments since its initial business case was announced in 2018.

Grant Leslie, the CEO of the Baaka Cultural Centre, announced plans to commission five established artists, five mid-career artists, and 20 emerging artists, “to create artworks for the inaugural exhibition and associated events.”

The initiative, supported by Create NSW and the Creative Koori Funding Program, “will provide materials and travel assistance to the Barkindji artists and be shared through a detailed catalogue and publication of works,” Mr Leslie added.

The exhibitions’ theme, being Kiira-Kiira – River Country, will be represented through all artworks, which can be of any medium.

Using the National Association for the Visual Arts guide for recommended fees and payments, Mr Leslie confirmed the five established artists for a small organisation will be paid $1232.00 per artwork, and mid-career artists will be paid $962.50 per artwork. The 20 emerging artists will be paid $770.00 for the art they produce.

Tenders for the building of Centre were announced in 2021, and expressions of interests were received in the same year.

Central Darling Shire Council, who manage the funding of the project, contracted David Payne Constructions (DPS) this year to build the site, and construction commenced several weeks ago.

Mr Leslie also announced that David Payne Constructions (DPC) are seeking to employ local people for the project, saying “they will provide training as well, because there will be special skills involved in this project.”

The benefit of this, Mr Leslie added, is that the training will give locals life-long skills to seek employment for other projects.

Those seeking employment throughout the construction of the site can contact DPC on (02) 6885 2211, but applicants are asked not to apply on-site due to safety concerns.

Aside from the art exhibition, Mr Leslie confirmed two other projects have been undertaken by the Centre while construction is underway.

The first project involved local elders being interviewed by Chuck Media for a storytelling event at the time of the ground-breaking ceremony, for display at the Centre once the doors are open.

The other project involves the repatriation of Barkindji artefacts, which will be collected over the next twelve months.

Looking ahead to the next twelve months, a proud Mr Leslie said, “the Centre should be a pivot for Wilcannia, because we are hoping this project will enable a number of local businesses to develop, such as river walks etc, as a result of the Centre being there.”

Expressions of interest for the art exhibition should be received by email at [email protected], by November 4.

Mr Lesie can be contacted for further information via the same email address, or on 0484 322 379.

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