Mildura Rural City Councillor, Mark Eckel, PICTURED right, has said he is going to get serious when it comes to his Arts, Culture and Heritage portfolio during the next four years.

“I plan on not resting for a moment in order to make a difference during my term,” Cr Eckel said.

“Australia’s creative and cultural industries contribute more than $86 billion annually to the national economy – more than the transport industry or welfare sector − the first research of its kind by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed back in 2014,” Cr Eckel said.

He is joined in his passion for the arts by fellow councillor Stefano de Pieri, PICTURED left, who believes Mildura arts sector is in need of a major boost.

A little known fact is that the Mildura Arts Centre, is home to, in a conservative estimate, more than $40 million in art works, the majority of which aren’t on display.

Councillor Eckel said he may be the first councillor to raise the question about what can be derived from the sale of some these valuable items.

“The purchase of a Central Business District property, taking the arts and theatre to the people and at the same time providing a long-awaited pedestrian link from Lime Ave to Deakin Ave, might be a solution which could be funded from this revenue,” Cr Eckel said.

“There is a veritable treasure trove here at the MAC and what we have to do is start thinking big,” Cr de Pieri said.

“While there is a proposal being considered to expand the Arts Centre Gallery, the reality is that modern art is everywhere, including here, and so we can never find the wall space to exhibit our permanent collection.
“As part of our Imagine 2040 thinking we need to find a solution to this problem in the next 10 to 15 years to ensure that this treasure trove is exposed.”

Councillors Eckel and de Pieri agree that a new home needs to be found in the CBD where the collection could be hung and this could also provide an opportunity for benefactors to bequeath their collections just as R.D. Elliot did.

“Shepparton has received a $60 million grant to expand the cultural life of their city with the building of a state-of-the-art centre,” Cr de Pieri said. They have also recently acquired a massive bequeath of aboriginal art works from a benefactor who has decided to donate this collection just as R.D. Elliot did all those years ago in Mildura.”

Councillor Eckel said that he and Cr de Pieri are going on a self-funded visit to MONA − The Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart.

“Stefano’s networks and knowledge of the arts I see as invaluable and it would be a travesty not to take advantage of his skills and so I have asked him to accompany me to Hobart,” Cr Eckel said. “And I’m sure that sentiment would be shared by all those who voted for him at the elections.”

“In the year ending September 2018, Tasmania received 1.30 million visitors and results from the Tasmania Visitor Survey indicate that 22 per cent − approximately 347,000 people had said they had visited MONA while on their trip.
“Mildura needs something like this and during my years as councillor for Tourism and working in the local hospitality Industry accumulatively for more than 30 years, our visitations have been historically from Melbourne, Western Victoria, Adelaide and country South Australia,” Cr Eckel said.

“I’m a strong advocate for promoting Mildura along our Melbourne corridor, through Bendigo and Ballarat, along the Calder and Sunraysia Highways and the vehicular movement in from the South Australian border.
“My next road trip at my own cost will be down through that corridor searching out the cultural and historical significance of our region’s small towns.
“We need to reveal the hidden treasures and capitalise on the Silo trail and the foreign tourist’s engagement with Lake Tyrrell.
“I support Ali Cupper for the ‘Outback Victoria’ branding and for her push for Kittyhawk Museum.
“I look forward to what comes out of the Victorian Tourism Review for our destination’s cultural significance.”