Time for a Break — Before we get Bold
On Monday we closed the front doors of Godinymayin Cultural Centre to make way for the major construction of Australia’s newest outdoor amphitheatre. The project has been years in the making, and has consumed much of my nearly two years in Katherine.
Our recent growth is part of the community’s vision for a dynamic and multi-faceted cultural facility—adding to what we already have—and it is happening thanks to generous funding from the Northern Territory Government’s Arts Trail initiative. When all is said and done in early 2024, we want Godinymayin to be a shining stop on the thousand kilometre strand of arts centres, cultural facilities, and creative destinations. And here at home, we want Katherine to connect with and enjoy the enhanced centre.
I arrived in December 2021, in the middle of the design phase, and immediately began working with the architects, engineers, government funders, and local stakeholders. It was obvious that there was shared ownership and collective vision, even if the funding was limited in a way that defined our ambitions. It was also clear that something bold and extraordinary was already on the cards.
By June 2022, Troppo Architects in Darwin had finished the design, final construction budgets were firmed up, and our expansion was almost afoot. After a few more months, hometown firm Katherine Constructions won the bid—breaking ground exactly one year after my arrival as chief executive. We’ve been working closely with their managers and crew ever since—as the cultural centre grounds and facilities expand around us.
For the next few weeks, we won’t be welcoming visitors, inviting locals to a live music gig, presenting any exhibitions, or hosting your meetings and private functions. The builders will begin on our new front entrance, amphitheatre stage and roof, and the new annex that will house our future office. By the end of September, we expect to welcome everyone back in.
Behind the scenes, our team is in a frenzy of planning: writing grants, looking for new partners, developing community events, and trying to sketch out a bold and ambitious 2024 Dry Season for Katherine and the Big Rivers Region. If we are going to do that right, we’ll need your input, ideas, and suggestions.
What things do you want to see when we re-open? Would your family come to Godinymayin for free outdoor cinema events, circus arts, or comedy shows? What sort of music would you attend—jazz, blues, country, Indigenous rock? What kind of cafe would you like us to operate? With local Indigenous parters, should we offer cultural workshops and experiences? Would you like to see major events like national touring acts, theatre productions, opera, or contemporary dance?
As we take this short break from programming and visitors, now is the time to tell us what you want for Katherine and for the expanded version of Godinymayin. And then, if it is within our means, our team will make it happen.
As our Arts Trail project team keep everything moving along, I am reminded of the words of Canadian writer Basil King: “Go at it boldly, and you’ll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.” Let’s get bold, Katherine, and work together to make 2024 an extraordinary year for community gatherings, cultural celebrations, and creative experiences.
— Eric Holowacz
Chief Executive Officer