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The Walls: staying true

Samantha Morris | January 2019

The Gold Coast has seen an enormous injection of resources into arts and culture over the past three years, predominantly driven by the Commonwealth Games.

Rebecca Ross, Director of The Walls Artspace says while there’s been a change in terms of the volume of arts activities taking place in the city, there hasn’t necessary been the same change in terms of diversity.

“Unfortunately I don’t think the changes have extended to the visibility of contemporary art and it seems that the focus is still firmly on other art forms that sit comfortably within traditional festival and seasonal formats,” she says.

“I’m really interested in how this next three years will shape up especially since the focus of the cultural landscape has now shifted to the permanent infrastructure being built at HOTA. This is a huge shift from the temporary focus of the Games across the last three years.”

Rebecca’s gallery, The Walls Artspace, tucked away in Miami’s industrial precinct has always pushed boundaries. Under her leadership, The Walls has always been about staying true and maintaining a permanent platform for the presentation of art and artists.

“It’s about being on a par with spaces running in capital cities,” says Rebecca.

The gallery is now secure in its spiritual home, can pay artists and fine-tune its programming thanks to a second triennial grant from the City of Gold Coast. The triennial grants, which have been awarded to nine arts organisations from now until 2021 supports the continued growth of the arts sector, building the capacity for arts organisations to grow and deliver high-quality cultural products for the community.

The triennial funding means that we can plan ahead and work with longer lead times with artists to develop and exhibit projects,” Rebecca told We Are Gold Coast.

“It’s also an opportunity for us to reflect on the past five years, look at what we did best and to further develop those things and to change things up. It will enable us to go deeper with our projects and programming, and to strengthen our engagement with national contemporary arts dialogue, artists and the community.”

“It means that we can continue to connect people with current and experimental art on the Gold Coast, provide transformative art experiences and enrich the Australian cultural landscape.”

The list of outcomes from The Walls first triennial grant is long: there’s a growing number of artists supported through programming, participating in ‘An Act of Showing’, supporting Byron Coathup at Testing Grounds in Melbourne, kicking off an international exchange with Miami in Florida, USA, bringing international artists to the Gold Coast and exploring how contemporary art can reflect and ignite conversations on the Gold Coast.

Above all else though, Rebecca says it’s about showing hot contemporary art in a cool space and having really good conversations about it.

“For me personally the most meaningful outcomes are when an artist comes up to you at an opening and tells you in person how significant their experience working with you or at THE WALLS has been, and you realise that you’ve made a real impact on them and their career. It’s these personal sentiments that for me keep the dream alive.”

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