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Negotiating community

MARRICKVILLE: The committee at Addison Road Community Centre (ARCC) has had some resolution to their concerns after the Supreme Court, on November 7, ordered Terry Cutcliffe to give possession of Westside Gallery forthwith to the Community Centre.

In the hands of the committee replacing Mr Cutcliffe, new artists in the community have had the opportunity to exhibit in the ARCC Gallery. Local artist Nicola Barakat said: “Previously I noticed that exhibitions weren’t changing regularly. As an artist I feel like the space has become more accessible.”

Plans are being made to approach school and university groups, as well as community artists, and to include more areas, such as out west, said Rosanna Barbara, co-ordinator of ARCC.

However, some in the community were upset that Mr Cutcliffe had to leave the gallery and that Aerialize, who rented out the Great Hall Monday to Saturday, did not have its lease renewed.

The committee consulted Aerialize to cut down its total hours to allow for other groups to use the Great Hall, however this did not agree with Aerialize’s structure.

Previous president, Don Mamouney said: “I believe Aerialize was unfairly evicted … Now the basis of canceling their lease was greater community use for the great hall. That was the reason, but they leased it to a bingo operation in the prime times of the week. Now I felt that gambling was the wrong activity to have in the centre.” LearningLinks, a charity group providing services for children with learning difficulties, ran Charity Housie, a game similar to bingo, under an approved permit as one of its fundraisers to raise money for their programs.

The anonymous damages to the Great Hall reported in the SSH in October may have disrupted the running of Housie but the committee rectified the problems within 24 hours. A campaign was also formed against Housie, including petitions to stop the running of Housie.

LearningLinks has since moved Housie to a club, as the amenities are well catered for, security provided, lots of parking and the CEO Warren Johnson said the location was more convenient.

He said: “The self-proclaimed campaigns had very little impact on my decision. My decision was more about, strategically, where I saw the program for us and what was better for our employees and patrons. The so-called campaign was already running out of steam when we were there. I never had one single phone call complaining, despite the efforts of the campaign to get people to do so.”

Reverse Garbage workshops, such as “Reuse”, have been held in the Great Hall. Director of “Reuse”, Nicola Baraket said: “We can use the hall when we have large groups, such as school vacation workshops … it’s great to have access to a space with shelter, which was never possible previously under Aerialize.”

The committee is looking forward to the new programs continuing next year, including its recent humanitarian work StopLynas, inviting activists from Kuantan, Malaysia, to hold a forum about stopping Australian corporation Lynas building a toxic rare earth refinery near their homes.

Rosanna Barbara believes that Addison Road is “a resource, it is not something that belongs to us, it is not exclusive to our members … it’s important to have a diversity of groups,  humanitarian work, supporting our community, the arts, the environment movements, because it’s the expression of our community.”

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