The fingerprints of the St Albans Community Cooperative can be seen all over the suburb, and its legacy is set to be cemented with the establishment of a St Albans arts council.
The group, which has been helping major community projects in St Albans since it was established in 1974, looks set to cease operations in the near future and plans to spend its remaining funds on promoting the arts in an ongoing fashion.
Speaking at the Brimbank Australia Day Awards at the Bowery Theatre, where the group received the Lifetime Achievement Award, co-op secretary Ken Hovenga said the time was right to wind up the group and leave a lasting legacy.
“We feel like we’ve achieved a lot, but we’re now ready to retire,” Mr Hovenga said.
“We’ve got about $300,000 at the moment, which we need to spend before we can wind up. And we’re thinking about a St Albans arts council – $300,000 to promote the theatre, promote people to use the theatre more, subsidise performances.
“We’re much more interested in what’s happening here than the broader area, so the legacy will be to try and keep the performing arts going in St Albans. Singing, dancing and music and all of that … I hope that’s how it will end up.”
The group’s remaining members – Mr Hovenga, Christa Lanzendoerfer, Alan Aisthorpe, Colin Thorpe and Marija Keller – were honoured last week after more than four decades of work in the community, including supporting the St Albans Community Health Centre, the Adult Migrant English Centre, Horizons Disability Support Group, the Migrant Resource Centre and the Sunshine Hospital.
They have also provided $210,000 in scholarships for financially disadvantaged young people in the area, and contributed $2.5 million towards the revamped St Albans Community Centre and Bowery Theatre.
“This award is an achievement for the whole of St Albans, not just us,” Mr Hovenga said after the presentation..
“I feel very proud to represent St Albans at this time.”