Footscray Community Arts Centre converts 148 year-old heritage building into a home for artists

FCAC-Residence-photo-by-Gianna-Rizzo-PhotographyFootscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) has announced RESIDENCE – an ambitious new program offering creative spaces for independent artists and small-medium collectives to experiment and develop arts projects.

Participating artists will ‘take up residence’ in FCAC’s newly refurbished bluestone heritage building, Henderson House, with creative spaces provided at no cost in the program’s first year.

The pandemic and ongoing gentrification of Melbourne’s western suburbs has had significant impact on independent artists and small arts organisations in the local community. Footscray’s population is expected to almost double with resident numbers reaching 30,500 by 2031 (from 16, 345 in 2016), and as a result, artists being gradually priced out of the area.

COVID19 has exacerbated the impact with many self-employed artists and casually-employed arts workers being unable to access government COVID19 response initiatives such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker. As the leading creative precinct in the area, FCAC is intent on bridging the geographic and financial barriers to accessing artistic spaces through this initiative.

“COVID19 has hit independent artists hard. And ongoing overdevelopment and gentrification of Melbourne’s western suburbs has made accessing creative spaces increasingly more expensive in the western suburbs,” said FCAC Artistic Director and Co-CEO, Daniel Santangeli. “At FCAC we want to see artists continue to create work in the western suburbs, and RESIDENCE will make this possible.”

RESIDENCE will take place in Henderson House: a 148 year-old bluestone building overlooking the Maribyrnong River that has had many lives from curing meat to housing FCAC’s offices. Forced temporary closure during Melbourne’s lockdown has allowed FCAC to upgrade the building, customising the facilities for artists to take up “artist residencies”.

The refurbishment of this iconic building was informed by the Precinct Plan research study, undertaken by Parallel Practice, and supported by Maribyrnong City Council and the Victorian Government.

Each renovated room inside Henderson House will be renamed after flora found in the local area as a way to honour the pre-colonial legacy of the area. FCAC has worked with visual artist Mitch Mahoney and FCAC’s Indigenous Advisory Group to undergo this process.

Open to local, national and international artists across all disciplines and at any stage of their career, FCAC particularly encourages Expressions of Interest from their communities of focus: Indigenous, migrant and refugee, disability and LGBTQIA+ communities.

Residencies will be up to 4 months at a time. Available spaces include artist studios, sound studio, gallery space, and theatre space. Artists will benefit from a range of onsite facilities, including internet access, meeting areas, accessible toilets, kitchenette facilities, on-site café, free parking, and access to the FCAC’s creative community and programs.


Expressions of Interest are now open and close 1 December 2020. For more information, visit: www.footscrayarts.com for details.

Image: A Studio at Henderson House – photo by Gianna Rizzo Photography

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