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April 20, 2024

New murals to help brighten Ballina’s town centre

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Ballina’s town centre is to receive a splash of colour thanks to councillors unanimously agreeing to fund some public art in a presently grey concrete area near Ignite Studios.

Councillors at the September ordinary Ballina Shire Council meeting last week agreed to support a staff recommendation for a Central Business District (CBD) mural program called the Ballina Street Art project.

Staff said the project was aimed at introducing street art to sheds and walls in the Ignite Studio precinct and privately owned walls in the Tamar Street car park / Winton Lane precinct.

Hope for less graffiti and urban grey

Street artist Guido van Helten working on a mural in Lismore’s Back Alley Gallery. Photo Darren Coyne.

New public art murals on two privately owned walls would be included in an effort ‘to demonstrate the value of street art in increasing vibrancy and prevent unwanted tagging and graffiti’, staff said in agenda notes.

Owners of the relevant properties at 34 – 38 Cherry Street (currently occupied by Bennetts) and at 2/105 River Street (currently occupied by Red Earth Jewellery) had responded positively to a council staff Expression of Interest (EOI) for hosting of public art around the Tamar Street / Winton Lane car park area, staff said.

The back wall of the Bennetts building facing a public carpark would feature a mural as part of the project, as would a side wall of the Red Earth Jewellery store sitting next to a pedestrian alleyway.

A recent walk around the back streets, laneways and car parks of Ballina’s CBD showed a distinct lack of commissioned public art and colour compared to CBDs in Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Lismore.

Blank spaces were predominantly instead either used for graffiti of the tagging variety, whereby names, slogans and sometime symbols are spray-painted onto private and public infrastructure, usually in black, or left plain and devoid of contemporary aesthetic attention.

Million-dollar developments’ public art contributions to be reviewed

A popular public art sculpture in the Byron Shire’s Brunswick Heads

Council staff said the council’s Public Art Advisory Panel (PAAP) recently considered and supported the Ballina Street Art project, which was to be a collaboration between the council, property owners and selected artists.

The council would pay for the artwork from a designated public arts fund, despite it being on private property, owing to anticipated wider community benefit derived from ‘a greater sense of place’, staff said.

The property owners would be responsible for retaining the artwork for as long as it was in reasonable condition and removing it once it was no longer in reasonable condition, with staff saying they expected the murals to last three to five years.

The artworks were estimated to cost $20,000, staff said, with the public arts fund having around $160,000 available.

Funds came through a developer contributions scheme that hadn’t been reviewed in years, discussion at the meeting revealed.

Developments valued at a million dollars or more incurred a $15,000 public art contribution but staff in the meeting said substantial sculptures and other outdoor installations could cost ‘many, many tens of thousands of dollars plus installation costs’ and that a review of the contributions scheme would be welcome.

Councillors agreed to receive a report on options to increase the developer contribution for public art as part of last week’s unanimous vote on the new murals.

Greens Councillor Simon Chate moved in support of the staff recommendation and developer contributions report, with Independent Cr Stephen McCarthy seconding.

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