Burrinja re-opens

Wurundjeri custodian Julie Coombes offering a Welcome to Country. Photo by Barbara Oehring.

The Burrinja Cultural Centre in Upwey has reopened after two years.

Having  closed for an expected one year of major redevelopment in 2019, thanks to Covid the centre remained closed until April 2021.

The official re-opening was launched by local Member and Acting Premier James Merlino, Yarra Ranges Mayor Fiona McAllister, Burrinja CEO Gareth Hart, Chairperson Holly DeMaria and Wurundjeri custodian Julie Coombes who gave a heartfelt Welcome to Country.

Mr Merlino recalled a very personal connection with Burrinja, when, as a new young councillor, he voted in the historic first motion of the newly formed Yarra Ranges Council to remove the former Shire of Sherbrooke Offices from sale. Mr Merlino said he still feels a tingle of history each time he walks into the building.

Funding for the project came from the Victorian State Government and Yarra Ranges Council.

Burrinja CEO Gareth Hart said the redevelopment creates new galleries and builds on the earlier addition of the 400 seat Burrinja theatre, thus completing the physical transformation of a building rooted in community history.

Mr Hart said ‘our new spaces honour and support the work we show on our walls with greater professionalism. This enables the stories and narratives of this place to be told with more impact.’

The redevelopment also provides museum storage for the McLeod gift collection – a significant collection of 600 and more Indigenous and Pacific Island artwork and artefacts, enhanced artist studios, redeveloped upstairs theatrette, café and foyer.

Mr Hart sees this redevelopment as ‘a significant moment to dream and articulate a future, where the community comes together through art, to forge strong interpersonal connections, and create a bright future of creativity, compassion and community strength.’

For details of Burrinja’s 2021 arts and community programs see burrinja.org.au

 Judy Wolff 

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