Wimmera Mail-Times Letters to the Editor - January 2, 2017

CONCEPT: An early design concept for the Wildlife Art Museum of Australia at Halls Gap. A new study shows the centre would have a positive impact on the Grampians.
CONCEPT: An early design concept for the Wildlife Art Museum of Australia at Halls Gap. A new study shows the centre would have a positive impact on the Grampians.

What is WAMA?

WE are often asked the question ‘what is WAMA’?

There are so many different responses to this question, often dependent on the audience listening to the answer.

Let me try to explain what WAMA (Wildlife Art Museum of Australia) means to me and why it is so important for our region.

The W is of course ‘wildlife’.

The natural Australian variety, with its rich abundance of flora and fauna.

We all think of wildlife as tigers and lions, but in fact WAMA is drawing us and, even more importantly, our children back to that much more accessible nature experienced in the Grampians.

The world we live in often disconnects us from the wildlife at our fingertips and the WAMA centre will provide a re-connection for young and old from all walks of life.

The A is for ‘art’.

WAMA will not only provide us with an opportunity to experience first-hand the works of our renowned Australian wildlife artists, but also to create our own masterpieces, inspired by the beautiful backdrop of the Grampians.

Art has many forms.

Having a space dedicated to self-expression, not only using the familiar, pencils, paint, clay and charcoal, but also working together to create collages and sculptures, will encourage all artists to relax and re-discover themselves in a stress-free environment.

For me, the M in WAMA stands for ‘meeting-place’.

The centre will provide a unique space for the local community and visitors to the Grampians to get together, whether to be creative, collaborate in workshops, enjoy a cuppa, have a walk or just to escape from the hustle and bustle, which is the norm in our everyday lives.

WAMA will be an additional attraction to the broad offering of the Grampians, helping establish the Victorian ‘golden triangle’, which brings tourists to the region. 

The final A in WAMA stands for Australia, but more specifically for the ‘area’ within the Grampians golden triangle.

WAMA will bring jobs to the Grampians and Wimmera.

It will increase tourism, the additional visitor numbers benefiting the various local communities and helping put the Grampians on the map as a ‘must-see’ and ‘must-do’.

It will complement existing attractions, providing visitors with another excellent reason to spend time in the area.

So why is WAMA struggling to raise money to actualise the project?

Community support is excellent, with the energy and enthusiasm of a significant volunteer network dedicated to put WAMA on the map.

The WAMA network has extended beyond the borders of the region, with interstate and even international supporters. 

The latest feasibility study was commissioned by the WAMA foundation board in 2016 to meet the demands for even more evidence of this positive impact.

It is a testament to the fact that WAMA is not an unrealistic vision, but is in fact a highly desirable centre, which will reap dividends in terms of the investment made in the project.

The study confirms the vision and potential that WAMA will bring to the regional economy, local businesses and tourism in particular.

Although government support has until now remained elusive.

The councillors and politicians holding the purse strings have so far failed to recognise the positive impact WAMA will have both locally and further afield.

However, there may still be a light at the end of the tunnel.

The current feasibility study strongly supports the view that the WAMA project should be a high priority on both regional and national political agendas.

JO ILLIG

Melbourne

This story Letters to the Editor first appeared on The Wimmera Mail-Times.