Support local artists

I recently read Whispers from the Gallery by Dianne Dempsey, Bendigo Weekly, April 6. It was, in short, a fairly scathing review of the current exhibition policies of the Bendigo Art Gallery under the direction of Karen Quinlan.
On one hand Ms Quinlan was praised for attracting thousands of tourists to Bendigo, and on the other condemned for turning the art gallery into a “frock shop”. It is as Bendigo arts patron, Anne Power, has commented, “a dilemma”.
The problem is that little or no support is being given to the local Bendigo arts community, or seemingly for Australian art.
Instead we currently see the fabrics of Marimekko from Finland and recently: Contemporary Art from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong; Grace Kelly’s dresses; American Dreams; Hollywood Costumes by Edith Head; Marilyn Monroe memorabilia and that eight-metre high, wind-up-her-skirt statue, Forever Marilyn, that almost made the nearby bronze of Queen Victoria blush.
The sad thing is that the Bendigo region has some great artists who rarely, if ever, get their work seen.
Certainly some of the local artists of the recent past, such as Leonard French, Bill Delica and Roger Kemp have one or two works in the permanent collection.
But as local artist Stanley Farley pointed out in Ms Dempsey’s article, “The gallery could visit artists working in the region. Commission exhibitions that talk about a sense of place and have a broad emphasis on where we are.”
The Ballarat Art Gallery, on the other hand, has a strong policy of supporting Australian artists with recent surveys of Pam Hallandal, Kevin Lincoln, Chris Canning (from Ascot) Yvonne Audette, Michael Shannon (from Heathcote) and of course their Lindsay Gallery, permanently celebrating the Lindsay family (Norman, Daryl, Percy, Lionel, Ruby et al) from nearby Creswick.
What we are witnessing is a cultural dumbing down, a turnstile exhibition policy determined by box office rather than any higher or local cultural values. It is definitely an un-Australian policy that by ignoring the local art scene, condemns it.
Its not just the local artists who are angry, its also local ratepayers who see their rates and taxes being used to support overseas art.
Meanwhile, the cultural cringe lavishly wines and dines at their expense in the Bendigo Art Gallery.

Jeff Makin,


Underpass redraws the map

Congratulations to the City of Greater Bendigo on the fabulous McIvor Road underpass.
This is a great example of continuous, connected infrastructure that makes travelling by bike and walking a real option for people of all ages and abilities.
McIvor Road was a major barrier on an otherwise highly navigable shared path connecting Epsom and Spring Gully.
Now, with the underpass complete, the entire journey is interrupted only by a handful of road crossings, most of which are minor, one of which is signalised.
The underpass redraws the map for cycling in Bendigo. It’s a boon for families heading to Lake Weeroona, mountain bikers riding to the trails, kids riding to school, and commuters (kiss the traffic goodbye and enjoy a peaceful, uninterrupted journey in a green space).
With freshly painted murals brightening the Mundy, Williamson and Miller streets underpasses, the trail is also proving increasingly popular with joggers, dog walkers and recreational cyclists.
Connected, attractive and traffic-free trails like this add real value to our city. Keep up the good work.

Nicola Dunnicliff-Wells,
Flora Hill


Upgrade causes downturn

The VicRoads website states that the upgrade to Napier Street will greatly improve the way people and traffic move through the busy White Hills area.
Sounds good, but spare a thought for the retail outlets in White Hills who are already suffering from a large downturn in their weekly sales.
With works continuing, the limited amount of parking and reduced foot traffic this situation will not improve over the winter months.
Local residents are concerned, if people do not support their local shops there is a probability that they may not be around in the future.
It may be great to have a nice new road for people to move through the area but not to the detriment of losing our White Hills identity
We implore people to continue to support the White Hills shops even after the upgrade is completed.

Bill Knight and Wendy Betts,
White Hills


Act now for museum

What a great idea is the plan to create a museum for Bendigo (finally) in the historic law courts.
Many people have been pushing for a museum for many years with little support.
I notice that the mayor said the council was “supportive”, however, they need to be active or this project will be lost to private ownership as was Fortuna when council sat on their hands until it was too late.
We cannot afford to let this fantastic opportunity slip through our fingers yet again.
Fortuna was lost as a public asset despite federal and state support and having a comprehensive business plan fully developed, simply because council was not on board.
Lobbying by all interested groups and stakeholders needs to start now for our own museum before it is converted into office space or apartments or whatever.

Stuart Symonds,
Council blunder

One has to congratulate Ted Coleman on his well-written, clear and precise critique of council’s case to compulsorily acquire land and develop a Marong Business Park against the wishes of the people. (Opinion, Bendigo Weekly, April 26).
He drew our attention to media statements made by certain councillors that underpin and defend council’s decision to compulsorily acquire good farm land.
He showed the councillor’s claims about manufacturing’s economic contribution, due diligence and “fake news” to be doubtful.
His critique demonstrated just how far out of touch some of our representatives have become with the real people.
He was right to assert council appears to want to be an entrepreneur, developer, financier and speculator, all with an unknown amount of ratepayers monies.
It seems some councillors and staff act with impunity outside of their role as elected representatives and employees.
Given the demonstrated weakness of council’s position it is now important to see what minister Richard Wynne will do with council’s application to apply the overlay, and whether he will give council permission to apply a public acquisition order over the land.
Critics are not opposed to an industrial park, but it should be proven by those in favour that it will succeed and that business will contribute and provide employment. At the present time the evidence is just not there; it does not pass the pub test.

Bill Collier,
Golden Square


Divulge the costs
Thank you Michael McKenzie for pointing out the shortcoming of the City of Greater Bendigo’s grab for extra rates for the recycling charge of $1.25 million, (Bendigo Weekly, Letters, May 11).
I totally agree with Michael, when he argues it is unacceptable that ratepayers, particularly the less well-off, should be asked to shoulder the burden of extra costs when savings can be made.
He also suggests readers will know which costly non-core ideas and crusades that deliver no tangible benefit for residents could be trimmed by council.
Again Michael is spot on with his analysis of the core service of the council that should be delivered efficiently, or at the least cost possible to ratepayers.
I have a simple challenge for Mayor O’Rourke and CEO Niemann.
Tell us the ratepayers of Bendigo the amount of monies to date expended on the deplorable grab by council to “compulsory acquire” the Carter family farm at Marong.
The legal fees should be easy to ascertain and divulge, calculating other costs may be a little more difficult but easily achievable and will be considerable.
My guess the figure will be a shock to most ratepayers and could have been used instead of increasing charges for waste collection.
Worse still, these costs have been incurred by council having flagrant disregard of recommendations of an independent panel.
What happened to the open and accountable governance that was promised by councillors standing for election less than two years ago?

Max Turner,