In an effort to preserve local Indigenous culture and art, community members and design gurus are proposing a cultural hub in the remote Northern Territory town of Maningrida, 500kms east of Darwin.
The Bawinganga Aboriginal Corporation and Maningrida Arts and Culture have partnered with Hassell and Architects Without Frontiers to propose the development of a culturally appropriate centre with future aspirations to attract an international audience.
If the proposal goes ahead the existing Djomi Museum and the Babbarra Women’s Centre will relocate and merge with the current Maningrada Arts and Culture Precinct to create a new hub.
Michelle Culpitt from Bawinganga Aboriginal Corporation told NITV News community Elders want the centre to be a place where "where kids can come and look and learn,” about their culture and heritage.
Ms Culpitt said the local community also wants the hub to educate both Indigenous and non-Indigenous school students through short-form films and documentaries.
Despite the project being yet to receive sufficient funding, Ms Culpitt said she is staying positive.
The Maningrida Indigenous community has been heavily involved in the consultation process, said Ms Culpitt
“It’s really a community-led process… there’s a committee of 14 people that got together and said that it was something that they wanted,” she said.
Mark Loughnan, board director and the principle designer and director of the project, said the aim of the new hub is to create a home for the local art.
“The facility is crucial for the community to support and harness creative and cultural practices in the region,” he said.
Mr Loughnan said his first visit to the Maningrida Arts centre left him speechless and he wants other visitors to have the same experience.
“There’s work that’s been created by the community and the outstations that is locally and globally interesting…[and] it is not really being protected in the way it should,” he said.