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Aboriginal Cultures Centre viability report signed-off, not released

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A long-awaited report into the viability and profitability of the $200 million Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre planned for Lot Fourteen has been signed-off by state cabinet- but the State Government is remaining tight-lipped about when it will be released to the public.

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A final business case for Marshall’s “jewel in the crown” for the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site has been considered and signed-off by State Cabinet following its completion in January, with a government spokesperson telling InDaily that a public release will come “in due course”.

The business case is expected to outline the projected final cost of the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre (AACC), how profitable it will be and how much taxpayer money is required to keep it operating.

It is also expected to outline how the centre should run, including its curatorial vision and governance structure.

The Government committed $500,000 in its 2019 State Budget to develop the business case.

Premier Steven Marshall told Parliament in September that consulting firm SGS Economics & Planning had been paid $77,025 to prepare a “full” business case.

Three months after that business case was complete, the Government contracted consultancy firm KPMG to conduct further research.

The final business case was completed in January and cost $206,558.

InDaily was told last year that the business case would be made public early this year.

Asked last week why the business case had not yet been made public, the government spokesperson cited “widespread engagement” with a range of organisations including the Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement, the Federal Government, cultural institutions including the Art Gallery, SA Museum and Tandanya, and the SA Tourism Commission.

“In due course the Government will release information from the business case that is not commercial-in-confidence,” the spokesperson said.

“This includes information that could affect tendering for the construction of the AACC.”

Meanwhile, the Government is still searching for a Program and Strategy Assistant Director to oversee the construction and operation of the centre.

InDaily reported last month that the Government had shelved plans to hire a director and was instead advertising for an assistant director following a “reconsideration” of staffing needs.

According to the job advertisement, the assistant director will an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

The government spokesperson said that applications had closed and the selection process was underway.

They said an announcement would be made when a suitable candidate had been appointed.

Construction on the $200 million centre, which is state and federal government-funded and designed by Woods Bagot and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is scheduled to start later this year, with the centre due to open in early 2025.

report summarising findings from the SA Government’s consultation with Aboriginal communities and other cultural institutions – published in 2019 – recommended that the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre “complement” Adelaide’s first National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Tandanya.

The report stated the centre should display what the SA Museum describes as the “world’s largest” collection of over 30,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts, as well as pieces from the Art Gallery of SA and State Library.

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