To create an arts precinct in the City of Port Phillip which enriches the local community and engages people from across the State.
To produce a thriving arts program in the environment of a public park.
The challenge and stimulus in shaping the Mission and Vision of the Park lie in the fact that the park is based on a dialogue. It is an urban parkland which belongs to the community and where the arts have a living presence.
The park values the arts, for the quality of imagination, of beauty, or humour, of surprise, for their capacity to connect us to other realms, suggest other ways of seeing, other forms of being and other realms of existence. They may relate to and stem from our everyday life, but alter and transform it so that we are not so sure whether the way we saw it before is the only way to see it. Or they may not relate to our daily life at all, but invite us to open ourselves up to things which we had not noticed before, or to which we had closed ourselves off. They may also on occasion provoke or be associated with political statements or social and economic concerns.
The park values the community that surrounds it. Partly because that community owns the park, identifies with it and pays for what happens there. But, more fundamentally, because the community, however multifaceted, represents us all in our daily life and needs, our desire for a civilised life and our aspirations for something beyond that. Saying that the community is important means that we value the potentiality for expression and appreciation in everyone. These qualities are enhanced through the experience of the arts and contribute to their development.
Gasworks Arts Park believes that the arts and the community can grow and be enriched in dialogue with each other. New realms can be reached, new subject matter articulated, new imagery created and what has not been expressed can come to be expressed. It is an experiment that has dialogue at its core.
Obviously that will not happen equally in all parts of the program all the time. It will happen in many different ways, each expressing only one possibility across a spectrum. All aspects of our program can contribute to it, whether that is art for children, the program in the theatre, the work of onsite and other visual artists, work by and with people with disability, or any of our other projects. No one element claims exclusive or preeminent importance: their multiplicity and variety enrich the park.
The guiding principles are interplay, mutual respect and curiosity, artist to public and public to artist, a knowledge that any one of us does not have the whole story, and that the other may know something which we do not. It is a place characterised by respect, dialogue, openness, delight and adventure.
To reach these goals may take years. But because the park conveys a sense of transformation, it can ask that of those that have contact with it.
James McCaughey, Chair, Gasworks Arts Park
Gasworks Arts Park is a hub, a hearth, a home for those who work in the arts or else enjoy them as an integral part of life. It is an inner-urban local arts precinct surrounded by a high density residential area; I am passionate about the European idea of the town square; of public land providing a meeting place that is host to a constant variety of events. We strive to provide a warm welcome to all our guests. I am informed and inspired by my Dutch heritage, where the word gezellig is an important concept: the sense of being in the company of friends, engaged in interesting conversations and experience, in an environment that gives pleasure.
We showcase the work of professional artists through our studio tours and our programmed work in our gorgeous main theatre, which has been converted from a turbine room in the days of the old gas plant. In those coal-burning days this room produced electricity; in special moments of performance it continues to do so. We seek to present work that embodies emotional gravity while at times through dance and circus, defies physical gravity. It is a theatre of appreciable scale and so we are able to show interstate work which is touring nationally. We program work that may provide insights into the past, make commentary on current issues, or through the expert use of style and form, presents an arresting spectacle which creates an immersive experience.
We are supportive and nurturing of new and emerging artists in the early part of their careers. We are often host artists who are having their first or second exhibition or show, activated through our visual arts program, or open access festivals such as Fringe, Comedy or Midsumma. Our professional technical, marketing and curatorial teams provide important advice and assistance to artists who are commencing their journey.
At Gasworks Arts Park a sense of fresh immediacy is never far away. Audiences can buy paintings, ceramics or jewellery direct from the artist, organic foods from the growers at our Farmer’s Market, fresh homemade meals from our cafe, or enjoy new performance works in our theatres. Visitors can also try one of our many creative arts workshops in our public studio spaces.
In all these ways we are a laboratory, an arts hub, a gathering place and a launching pad.
Tamara Jungwirth, Director & CEO, Gasworks Arts Park