Published: 12 September 2022

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - After a time of heightened anxiety for the arts in and around Burnie, exciting things are now happening at the arts and cultural space in Burnie. As we know, along with the rest of Tasmania, as we re emerge from the pandemic restrictions - a situation which had such a dramatic impact on our artistic and cultural experiences, including local events - things are starting to change.

The Burnie Arts brand has been established to encompass and promote a reinvigorated art scene through a new multi-arts platform,, which is described on its home page as a cultural hub serving Burnie and north-west Tasmania promoting the performing and visual arts as well as the Burnie Regional Museum and events and functions.

Despite over two years of disruption, it is exciting to know that the arts appear to be thriving. Burnie City Council's director of corporate and commercial services, Bel Lynch, has informed me that in 2021 - 22:

Burnie welcomed over 100 000 visitors to our combined cultural facilities, as venues such as the Burnie Regional Art Gallery and the Burnie Regional Museum have progressively reawakened.

A revitalised Burnie Arts and Function Centre has welcomed back many special events, conferences, dinners and functions and acts as a hub for so much community activity. The Arts and Function Centre has been a hive of activity as COVID-19 restrictions eased and welcomed the return of so many of our annual community events, as well as new shows. An incredibly diverse range of activities takes place in this busy centre, including eisteddfods, dance and drama, a range of music genres, conferences, fairs, dinners, live performances and much more. A new live performance program has been launched for 2022, kicking off with a free concert from the City of Burnie Brass Band. Patrons have been entertained by a vast range of professional and community performances, including musicals from Hellyer College, Burnie High School and the Burnie Musical Society.

Additionally, there were opportunities to experience contemporary drama from DoMaur Productions, as well as popular touring shows such as Human Nature; classical concerts from the Van Diemen's Band Virtuosi Tasmania; circus shows; The Sapphires musical; and shows for children, including Earth's Prehistoric World and Trinket the Robot.

The visual arts have also been very invigorated with the exciting establishment of the new CBD contemporary gallery, Intersection Art Space. In a unique collaboration between Burnie City Council, Ten Days on The Island and Business Northwest, the Intersection Art Space was created in the former Dick Smith building in Wilmot Street to stage the National Portrait Gallery Photographic Prize touring exhibition, the only Tasmanian venue for this important national touring project.

The former Dick Smith store has been meticulously refurbished, transforming an empty retail space into an exciting new art gallery for the Burnie community and visitors.

Two more exhibitions followed at Intersection showcasing Tasmanian artists: Steel & Water, an exhibition of new work by Burnie artist, Michael Muruste, and NatureNurture, an exhibition of graphic work by Launceston based artist, Anna Van Stralen and Lex Palmer Bull. A portfolio of works from a Sydney artist, printmaker Bruce Latimer, will be a fourth exhibition to be held at Intersection, opening on 8 October and running for six weeks.

The Burnie Regional Art Gallery and Intersection general manager, Scott Campbell, is very happy with the success of Intersection, which initially began as a pilot pop-up art space. He will be overseeing the exhibition, which has been named Re:Connection. After the last two years of COVID-19 interruptions Mr Campbell said in a recent interview that the exhibition's name was appropriate for a few reasons. He said:

One, of course, is the whole society is going through a reconnection and the visual arts is very much a part of that. Being able to get people along to the opening and the length of the show, we feel this work will reconnect people. Bruce's work itself is full of connections, weird and uncanny connections, but always there's things in his work that show how the whole world is connected.

Meanwhile, the Burnie Regional Gallery space was redecorated and reopened in June to stage the national touring exhibition, JamFactory, celebrating the work and career of one of Australia's most celebrated ceramic and mixed-media artists. Workshops, talks and discussions accompany the exhibitions of both Intersection and the Burnie Regional Art Gallery, building further connections with artists, their work and the public.

Finally, the Federation Street display at the Burnie Regional Museum reopened to the public on 9 March 2022, after the success of the 50th anniversary celebration of the display in November 2021. The temporary exhibition opened in the museum in early June. Tara Palmer, a student from Burnie's Hellyer College displayed her photographic work in the Burnie Identities exhibition. Her photographs won Tara the Helen Denise Jones OAM Memorial Arts Bursary in 2021. A children's play space has also been installed with equipment purchased from a grant through the Australian Museums and Galleries Association Culture, Heritage and Arts Regional Tourism (CHART) program. The space has been very popular with young visitors to Federation Street.

The future does look bright for Burnie arts with a number of projects either underway or in the planning stages. These include a plan to welcome cruise ships back to Burnie, with a pop-up visitor experience to operate in Civic Plaza; a new performing arts program for 2023, with an emphasis on Tasmanian performance groups; programming Intersection Art Space to operate continuously - which is really good news - from October 2022 to April 2023. Also, there are plans for a major historical exhibition on the theme Burnie at Play to run in the Burnie Regional Gallery space for six months from November; developing a Christmas night market event in December; and planning for 2023 as a year the Art Centre will be transformed into the innovative and exciting cultural hub of Burnie.

Burnie City Council is considering preliminary plans for a cultural centre building, with final architectural plans expected in September. The council has committed to consult with the community on these plans.

I commend the council, Bel Lynch and Scott Campbell, as well as the many staff and volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes looking after the collections and the visitors to the facilities. I encourage all members to visit when you are in Burnie.


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