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11 November 2020
BY DYLAN DE JONG
A Yarriambiack municipal leader is confident a series of art projects will make the shire a ‘standout’ competitor as an attractive tourist destination when COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Council chief executive Jessie Holmes is eager to see the socio-economic benefits from two art projects in Yarriambiack that will transform heritage-listed buildings into ‘art hotels’.
Co-ordinators of a collaborative project between the council, Monash University and Working Heritage, hope a plan to re-purpose Warracknabeal’s courthouse into an art hotel will be completed by April 2021.
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At the same time the council will select a builder for a redevelopment project of a former powerhouse located at Hopetoun.
The Hopetoun Powerhouse project will divide the existing space into two sections, including an art studio and accommodation space.
Mrs Holmes said the art hotels would be added to a ‘long list’ of attractions that would make Yarriambiack a strong competitor in the Victorian tourism market.
She said Yarriambiack Shire was home to six instalments of the iconic Silo Art Trail as well as a mini silo art project in Woomelang and several murals spread across the municipality.
“We hope that it becomes an attraction that can complement the many other art projects across our shire and further embed the art theme for our remote and rural locations,” she said.
“We’ve seen the success of the Silo Art Trail and the community has been part of that success as well, so now it’s about continuing to activate spaces.”
Mrs Holmes said repurposing historical buildings such as the courthouse was an effective way to ensure the buildings would continue to serve a purpose.
“It’s about recognising those historical buildings in our community also have the ability to be reused or repurposed in a way that still benefits the community, while also attracting tourism,” she said.
“In the process those buildings will remain well-loved and looked after.”
Mrs Holmes said she expected an influx of visitors to the shire, with easing of COVID-19 restrictions for Melbourne residents on Monday.
“We expect with the domestic travel market reopen, there will be a lot of people keen to get out and looking for opportunities to enjoy the summer,” she said.
“With the Silo Art Trail, as well as our lakes and many other attractions, I believe that makes us a pretty attractive and competitive location for people who want to do intrastate-domestic travel.”
Working Heritage executive officer Ross Turnball said project co-ordinators were looking to Warracknabeal’s largest festival, Y-fest at Easter 2021, as a date to open the courthouse project.
“As far as the works go, we’re getting close to being finished,” he said.
“The next phase will be the Monash team doing interior fitout work to the building.
“Then we will be launching an expression of interest for our first sponsored artist to take up a test residency in the facility.”
Mr Turnball said the Warracknabeal project would build on the Wimmera’s arts and culture identity.
“In order to attract the attention of people from Melbourne, this will provide something a little different and will be a way to rise above the pack in terms of tourism,” he said.
“The Wimmera is a really vibrant place in terms of art, when you think of the Silo Art Trail, the town of Natimuk and Horsham Regional Art Gallery.
“When you get all these little things building up together, it turns into a great big thing and develops a life of its own.”
The entire November 11, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!