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No director needed for Aboriginal Cultures Centre

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UPDATED: The State Government has shelved plans to hire a director to head its $200 million Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre at Lot Fourteen, deciding to instead hire an assistant director following a staffing review.

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A government spokesperson confirmed to InDaily that the search for a “Project and Program Director” to oversee the construction and operation of the future Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre (AACC) at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site had prematurely ended following a “reconsideration” of the centre’s short-term staffing needs.

The three-year role was only open to qualified Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people and came with an annual pay-check of up to $216,626.

Listed responsibilities included developing the centre’s curatorial strategy, overseeing the building’s design and construction, and establishing an ongoing funding model.

But after a two-week application period ending in October, the Government did not appoint a person to fill the key role.

The Government is now recruiting an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander “Program and Strategy Assistant Director” for the AACC, who will be tasked with similar responsibilities.

“The staffing needs for the AACC in the short term have been reconsidered and the recruitment process for the Project and Program Director was not continued,” a spokesperson told InDaily.

“Recruitment is currently underway for an Assistant Director Program and Strategy… to deliver the creative planning, programming, and curatorial strategy for the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre to ensure that the AACC becomes a world-class cultural facility.

“Only Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are eligible to apply.”

InDaily asked the government spokesperson why it had reconsidered the AACC’s staffing needs and whether it intended to appoint a director at a later date.

The spokesperson told InDaily that the timeframe of staffing requirements for the AACC was reconsidered as a result of the work undertaken by KPMG on the centre’s business case.

“The Director for the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre will be appointed at an appropriate time to lead the opening and management of the Centre,” the spokesperson said.

According to a government job advertisement, the assistant director will “act as the central coordination point” between institutions such as the SA Museum, Art Gallery of SA and State Library, which will display some of their collections at the AACC.

The assistant director will be paid between $167,239 and $200,000 each year.

The government spokesperson said the timing of the appointment was “particularly significant” as the assistant director would help refine the building’s design in collaboration with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot.

It comes after the Government revealed the concept design for the centre earlier this month, which are inspired by Aboriginal shelters known as wurlies and humpies.

Detailed designs are being worked on over the next 12 months in partnership with an Aboriginal reference group led by the centre’s ambassador and SA Museum Aboriginal Advisory Committee chair David Rathman.

Lot Fourteen State Project Lead Diane Dixon said the assistant director role presented a “unique opportunity” to join the design team at a crucial time.

“The role will be key to ensuring the vision of an extraordinary, immersive experience combining traditional storytelling with modern technology to deliver a major cultural tourist attractor, as the world learns more about the incredible story and unique cultures of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People,” she said.

Applications for the assistant director position close on March 4.

Construction of the $200 million AACC is scheduled to start later this year, with the centre due to open in early 2025.

The centre is touted to be one of Lot Fourteen’s future flagship buildings and is expected to lure interstate and international tourists to the state.

It is jointly funded by the State and Federal Governments.

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