There’s a new bus service in Canberra that’s garnering glowing publicity.
ANCA’s Art Bus, an initiative launched by the Dickson-based not-for-profit arts organisation, has seen them co-opt and then retrofit a retired ACTION bus, decking it out as a gallery on wheels.
ANCA Gallery manager Karena Keys says the idea came about when she began thinking about what they could do in the city that would be exciting and engaging.
“I wanted to try and get ANCA out of its home and into somewhere else.
“Sometimes coming to a gallery is a bit intimidating for people, and for ANCA, we’ve been around for 26 years but are still relatively unknown,” she says.
Keys was also inspired by considering how her primary-school aged son could engage with contemporary art.
“Workshops are a good way to do that, so I started to think about a space that could move around and potentially visit schools and other locations,” she says.
The bus is currently parked in Garema Place, where it will remain throughout November, hosting works by resident artist Ruby Berry. In December it will move to City Walk, where Dionisia Salas will host an exhibition, and in January it will pull up at Civic Square, with artist Tom Buckland behind the wheel.
All are welcome to walk onboard and view the exhibition, chat to the artist or book into one of the free art workshops that will be running regularly throughout each exhibition.
“To actually have an art workshop that’s engaging with the art you can see, it’s a really great way to help people understand and have an in to the concepts behind the work,” Keys says.
“Sometimes it can look quite bizarre and abstract, but when they start going through the workshop which involves the artists’ process, it all starts to unravel for them a bit.”
ANCA Art Bus coordinator Millan Pintos-Lopez says the workshops will work as drop in sessions.
“The whole beauty of this project is the ability to reach out and grab those people who don’t necessarily have the time or the space in their lives to engage with art.
“If people are wandering past and don’t necessarily have an hour to spare but would like to leave their kids there for five minutes, they’ll be able to walk away with something.
“But also if you’re able to stay there for an extended period of time you’ll produce something far more developed. That flexibility is really important,” he says.
City Renewal Authority (CRA) director, design and place strategy, Andy Sharp says the Art Bus is an opportunity to use public spaces around Civic in a unique fashion.
“Our City Grants program is designed to fund projects that contribute to a lively city centre that encourages social exchange and diversity and the ANCA Art Bus is a perfect example of this.”
Keys says the CRA have been very excited and supportive of the initiative.
“They’re happy for it to exist in the city for beyond the initial grant period, and then next year we’re hoping to start travelling it around to schools should funding allow.”
“We see it as really important that the bus can travel to schools, and take it to that next level of engagement with students and youth,” Pintos-Lopez adds.
“Over the next few years we envisage it as a travelling bus visiting schools; we’ve put forward a few different proposals to funding organisations and are seeking corporate sponsorship for that project.”
Currently in Garema Place, the ANCA Art Bus will host three exhibitions at three different Civic locations across November, December and January. Visit anca.net.au for more.