I am pleased to rise in support of this bill.
It is a piece of legislation that repeals the Arts Victoria Act 1972 and really provides the structure and framework for arts in Victoria.
It is a great opportunity to hear members in this house talking with some passion on the issues surrounding the arts in their own areas.
It is great to hear from regional members in particular about the richness of the arts in our communities and the way people come together and support each other.
I think the principles of the act are important, and I would like to refer to them. In particular:
… the Parliament recognises that —
the arts have an intrinsic value that contributes to the cultural depth, diversity and life of Victoria —
is so true. Also:
… the arts and creative industries contribute significantly to Victoria’s wealth and prosperity.
On that note it is really important to understand the extent to which the arts contribute to tourism. As someone from Shepparton I often think about the great value the development of the arts in a city like Bendigo has had. A city which has 20 trains a day travelling between Melbourne and Bendigo is able to offer to the people of that area the choice of their local arts and the ability to access arts in their closest metropolitan centre. That accessibility, I think, is very important and indeed one of the principles. The principles go on to say:
… the Parliament further recognises that —
the arts and creative industries are meant to improve the quality of life for all individuals in Victoria and improve the community of Victoria as a whole.
I think we would all wholeheartedly agree that that is what it does — it brings people together. The principles also state:
all individuals in Victoria are equally entitled to access opportunities and participate in and contribute to the arts and creative industries in Victoria …
I would like to talk about Shepparton on that note because we take the arts very seriously, and at this particular point in time we are working very hard to finalise funding for our new Shepparton Art Museum. This is a process whereby the Victorian state government has already committed $10 million through regional development, there has been $10 million from local government and $10 million is also to be raised through the philanthropy of the local Shepparton Art Museum Foundation. There was also a commitment from the National Party during the recent federal election to a further $10 million from the federal government.
The Shepparton Art Museum was established in 1936 with a £50 grant from the Victorian state government. It is good to see that here in 2016 we are still receiving support and now have the opportunity to grow and build something truly remarkable. It is perhaps not so well known but it is a fact that the Shepparton Art Museum houses Australia’s leading collection of historical and contemporary ceramics. It currently holds over 3000 works of art. Much of this, unfortunately, is down in the depths of the museum, hidden away and not able to be displayed. This is another important reason why we would like to have our new museum built on the edge of the lake in Shepparton — to be a true showpiece of architecture and also to provide the ability to put on display so much of the wonderful work that we have.
I think it is important to mention the business case for the Shepparton Art Museum, because it outlines that after 10 years of operation it will be contributing $3.1 million in economic activity to the region. The overall economic impact on the region at the end of those 10 years is presently valued at $9.15 million, with that impact continuing to grow in the future. Construction of the new museum is estimated to lead to $58.1 million in economic activity and create about 181 jobs. That is so important in a region like Shepparton, where jobs are always sought after and where we, unfortunately, have a high youth unemployment rate. It has been terrific over the last few years to see the development of our courthouse, which is employing a lot of people, and on which there has been a commitment to use local contractors and employees. We will be working towards the redevelopment of Goulburn Valley Health — our hospital. Again, jobs will be an important feature of the success of those sorts of developments in our region, which we are so glad to have.
The year 2016 also saw the Indigenous Ceramic Art Award winner come from Shepparton. I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Gallery Kaiela and its two artists, Jack Anselmi and Cynthia Hardie, for the piece of work they did which won the Australian award. The winner of the $20 000 acquisitive prize was announced by Mr Rupert Myer, AO, during the exhibition and opening event. That was on Saturday, 26 April, this year. It was a great pleasure to be there to see such an amazing piece of art, which has now been acquired by the gallery and which belongs there.
The other feature of Shepparton and my electorate is the number of festivals that are held throughout the region. These festivals could not happen without the support of Creative Victoria. They include the Shepparton Festival, held annually. This festival started out in 1994 but 1997 was the first time that it was formally held, and it has continued each year since that time. I have to say that it has been a great pleasure to be a member of that community throughout the whole time and to see year after year that festival emerge and grow. It has been successfully staged every year and is seen as a major calendar event within regional Victoria. It has played a major role in changing the face of arts culture in the region, giving the arts a greater profile.
There are some aspects of it that are outstanding. One is the Emerge Festival, which is usually held on the Saturday night beside Victoria Park Lake. As members will know, we have a very significant multicultural community and it is amazing to see members of all our communities, especially our more recent African, Afghani and other Middle Eastern communities, come together at the lake to share their food, share their music and share their culture, as well as the local Indigenous community, the Yorta Yorta, and their dancers, and of course the many other displays that are on. It is the sort of thing that really does bring people together on the ground in a way that is not esoteric. It is not the arts where you go along and specifically and individually enjoy looking at a piece of art or theatre. It is a real bringing together of people in the community. It is that walking around, talking to people, watching what is going on but really feeling a cohesiveness that is often not so apparent in some forms of our arts.
Then there is the Numurkah Food Bowl Festival. Numurkah is a town in my electorate, which this year staged the food bowl festival once again. It is a wonderful opportunity for our smaller towns to showcase what is happening. On Saturday morning the whole town was alive. The streets were alive. All the shopkeepers had their wares out. There was music, including brass bands, concerts in the park — all sorts of things. You could have spent the whole day there; indeed I was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of it enjoying those things.
Just a few years ago we had the Dookie Earthed Festival. A significant grant enabled the little town of Dookie to show what it had. The most amazing thing, I am told, that came out of that was at night, in a quarry, on a silo up on the hill, the lights came on and an opera singer started singing from the top of the silo. It was a truly skin-tingling sort of event. People still talk about that as being one of the most amazing nights they have ever experienced.
We hold the OUT in the OPEN Festival in Shepparton each year. This is a tribute to our local LGBTI community, who bring this festival to Shepparton and a whole range of acts into the community. There are shows on in local hotels, in the park and the like. Again, this is an opportunity to show the sort of diversity we have in our community.
We have the local Shepparton Theatre Arts Group, which performs plays throughout the year for amateur dramatics. That has been a wonderful tribute. In fact I had the opportunity many years ago to strut the stage and say one line in a play called Twelve Angry Women. It is a surprise that here I am now, talking endlessly. I never thought I would do it, but those of us in Parliament do get the opportunity to be actors a lot of the time. Maybe those few moments on stage helped. I am pleased to support this bill. It is a very important mechanism for arts in Victoria.