Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy

Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy

The ACT Government’s Arts Facilities Strategy (PDF 1.2MB) PDF, developed in 2003, outlines the Kingston Foreshore as "leading visual arts production and activity".

$150,000 was allocated to artsACT in the 2010-11 Budget to develop a Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy. Although it has been intended since 2003 that the Kingston Arts Precinct should have a visual arts focus, other complementary arts and cultural activities will also be incorporated into the Precinct.

The Purpose of the Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy

The purpose of the Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy was to:

  • Outline a vision for the Kingston Arts Precinct by identifying opportunities to expand and enhance creative arts activity at the Kingston Foreshore
  • Identify future high-level needs required to make it viable as an Arts Precinct
  • Consider complemenatry use of the Former Transport Depot and the Fitters' Workshop
  • Identify the need for new purpose-built facilities
  • Develop a staged approach for its implementation to provide for a range of uses that will complement activitiy already occurring at the Old Bus Depot Markets and the Canberra Glassworks
The Consultants and Services

artsACT engaged Susan Conroy, Cultural Planner, to develop the Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy. The project team, led by Ms Conroy, comprised:

  • Cultural planning – Ms Conroy, Ms Susan Davis, Ms Suzanne Kyte
  • Heritage and conservation advice, access and mobility considerations, architectural advice – Mr Eric Martin, Eric Martin and Associates
  • Landscape design advice – Mr David Moyle, Redbox Design Group
  • Land use planning, land management advice – Ms Claire Middleton, ACT Planners
  • The aim of this consultancy was to develop a high-level consolidated and comprehensive Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy, to inform the future development of the Kingston Foreshore. The Cultural Planner worked closely with artsACT, as well as other ACT Government agencies, to develop the Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy.

The Cultural Planner and project team were required to:

  • Analyse existing reports commissioned by the ACT Government and external consultants regarding the Kingston Foreshore and associated buildings
  • Develop and finalise the agreed methodology for seeking stakeholder views, in collaboration with artsACT
  • Consult with key stakeholders including, but not limited to, relevant ACT Government agencies, local visual arts organisations, and Managers of the Old Bus Depot Markets
  • Submit both the draft and final Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy documents to artsACT by the agreed due dates. This document should include a high-level consolidated and comprehensive vision for the Kingston Arts Precinct, as well as identifying opportunities and constraints
The Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy Final Report

The final report by Susan Conroy in association with Susan Davis, Sue Kyte, Eric Martin, David Moyle and Claire Middleton is available here:

Executive Summary

A vibrant Kingston Arts Precinct has been envisaged since the first consultations on Kingston Foreshore‘s redevelopment.

In the ACT Government‘s Arts Facilities Strategy (2003) Kingston Foreshore is identified as a major arts precinct for visual arts production. It was to take advantage of what were described in that strategy as unique opportunities, including iconic heritage buildings connected to Canberra‘s early development as a city and the National Capital. Canberra Glassworks (in the former Power House), officially opened in May 2007, was the first component of the arts precinct to be delivered by the ACT Government.

The Government is now seeking a Kingston Arts Precinct Strategy to inform future development. While the precinct remains focused on visual arts, some key additional direction has underpinned the development of the Kingston Arts Precinct strategy. It includes looking at opportunities for complementary arts and cultural activities within the precinct. It required looking at a mix of tenants and uses necessary to help provide for the long-term financial viability of the arts precinct (it is recognised that arts and cultural precincts are notoriously difficult to make a go of financially).

The Glassworks, the Old Bus Depot Markets (held in the Former Transport Depot) and the planned relocation of Megalo Print Studio and Gallery to the precinct are seen to provide a heart for the Kingston Arts Precinct. But on their own they are insufficient to keep the heart beating. This requires abundant extra energy and activity in the precinct to help ensure longevity – to fire up artists and other creative people, and to make it a place that the rest of the community just must visit, and often.

During consultations it was clear that there is a high level of interest in the Kingston Arts Precinct by a range of visual arts disciplines (in addition to those identified by artsACT in its brief for the work), including for a fashion incubator, for screen-based arts, arts advocacy organisations and an Aboriginal Arts Centre. Proposed is the relocation of a number of key arts and cultural organisations to the precinct.

In order to accommodate the identified demand, and to help develop a critical mass of creative activity, proposed here is the adaptive re-use of heritage-listed buildings and spaces, with some new facilities, to provide an integrated, active precinct for visual arts, contemporary arts and other cultural activity. As already announced by the Chief Minister, it is intended that Megalo will relocate to the Fitters‘ Workshop. In addition, it is proposed that there be a new purpose-built building. This is essential for providing the space necessary to create a vibrant, active arts and cultural precinct with this facility having the potential to be a unique, landmark venue for the visual and performing arts, potentially for a curatorial program.

The ultimate goal of the strategy is for a vibrant, high quality, diverse cutting-edge artisan and production precinct that is active seven days and evenings a week, which not only celebrates and respects the site‘s Aboriginal, early settlement and industrial history but also is:

  • Well-connected to its immediate communities and the broader Canberra community
  • Adaptable, flexible, accessible and sustainably developed
  • Underpinned by the infrastructure and resources necessary to give it long-term viability as a place for local and visiting artists, designers, makers and creative businesses, and
  • For the wider community is an inspirational place to visit and experience because it is known as a place where artists, cultural organisations and creative businesses make, teach, exhibit, perform and sell their work.

For more information please contact artsACT on 02 6207 2384.

Kingston artist's impression