An iconic building at the heart of a southern farming community “which needs a bit of love” is set get some TLC to provide more opportunities for local arts and businesses to call it home.
The Ravensthorpe Community Centre was today announced as one of 32 not-for-profit organisations across the country sharing in a $1 million Federal Government boon targeting projects in drought-affected areas.
It follows an “unprecedented” few years in WA which saw the State declare 12 water deficiencies and spend $5 million carting emergency livestock water to drought-stricken communities.
Two of those deficiencies were in the Shire of Ravensthorpe — Mount Short and Ravensthorpe (west) — after on-farm supplies depleted to critical lows after years of drought.
The centre — which is run out of the former Commercial Hotel built in 1906 — was the biggest beneficiary in the WA, awarded $60,000 to upgrade its veranda and top storey, called the “Blue Room”.
The funding was delivered through the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s Tackling Tough Times Together program, which is in its eighth year.
RCC secretary Elisa Spengler said it would help them do up the “dated” upstairs room, which would give local groups and businesses a nice, affordable space to run meetings, host exercise classes and run events for the community.
“It’s a beautiful big space that needs a bit of love,” she said. “It’s still being used, it’s just really dated... it could be better utilised with a bit of work.
“It’s quite a large room and has got a lot of potential. We think it will be a big opportunity for the arts.”
New carpets and paintwork are on the agenda, with plans to get “immediately onto builders” to get work under way.
The upgrade will follow on from the centre’s last facelift, which saw the kitchen renovated this week.
The building was built in 1906 and used as a hotel, before being purchased by the Phillips River Masonic Lodge in 1946. When the lodge folded last year, the community took ownership of the building.
It is now home to a range of community groups including the arts council, wildflower show and a beautician — with its administration run by Ravensthorpe Agricultural Initiative Network.
“It’s a really beautiful, iconic building owned by the community, which is pretty unique,” Mrs Spengler said. “It’s really cosy and homely and has a lot of character.”
“It’s a real feature of the streetscape.”
The funding boost comes after a tough few years for the Ravensthorpe community, which was in 2017 devastated by floods, before enduring three extremely dry seasons which saw dams run dry.
The Shire of Mingenew also received some funding ($5240) for town beautification by hosting art workshops and mural paintings to encourage children’s learning and development.
Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Regional Development Minister Barnaby Joyce said the projects would “enhance economic recovery and renewal” following the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and drought.
“This funding is being delivered directly to grassroots, community-led initiatives to benefit local communities that have been hardest-hit,” he said.
“These projects focus on reducing volunteer fatigue, fostering social connection, enhancing community identities, developing a greater ability to respond to community challenges and supporting the recovery of the local economy.
“While we’ve seen good rainfall in some areas of Australia, the impacts of drought are long-term and far-reaching, which is why it is vital this Government continues to back our regions to support a more secure and resilient Australia.”
Funding has also been set aside for the Noongar Land Enterprise Group’s wattleseed harvesting project in Beverley to support and engage the community in leadership development and skills training.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said they would boost community identity and sense of place, which he said was “crucial” for the wellbeing of rural and remote communities.
“This Government is providing over $11 billion from 2018-19 to assist farmers, regional businesses and communities experiencing drought and this is just one commitment that provides immediate support to those communities as they continue their recovery from drought.”
“The Tackling Tough Times Together program is a rolling grants program and I encourage drought-affected communities to apply for the next open round of funding.”
More information on the Tackling Tough Times Together program and the latest round of recipients can be found on the Foundation’s website at https://frrr.org.au/TTTT
Ravensthorpe Community Centre: Restoring the Ravensthorpe Community Centre veranda and blue room, $60,000
Noongar Land Enterprise Group Incorporated: Wattle seed harvesting training for drought resilience on Noongar Country, Beverley, $59,723
Country Music Club of Boyup Brook: Boyup Brook Country Music Festival, $56,020
Brookton Old Time Motor Show 2022: $15,000
Leeman Green Head Community Resource Centre: Increasing capacity, capability and sustainability of centre, $10,000
Pemberton Mill Hall Restoration Committee: Kitchen upgrades, $10,000
Karridale Primary School: Bushland art project, $6000
Shire of Mingenew: Town beautification with children’s art workshop, $5240