Griffith University in Queensland is considering the closure of its main gallery, Griffith University Art Museum, to allocate space for its expanding film school, pending public input ending next Friday, 15 December.

The proposed closure of the Griffith University Art Museum (GUAM) has ignited a wave of impassioned responses within the Brisbane arts community. Following last week’s announcement and the subsequent two-week internal consultation period, stakeholders ranging from arts leaders to industry bodies, including University Art Museums Australia (UAMA), concerned students and artists, have flooded social media with messages of both opposition and support.

Visual artist, Pat Hoffie, posted this short essay on social media this week.

Hoda Afshar, Agonistes (still), 2020, installation view Griffith University Art Museum, One-channel digital video, colour, sound, 20 mins. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery. Photograph: Ian Were.

In an expanding world, space is shrinking. For those who are already pushed to the margins, the pressures mount. And the problems get bigger and more explosive when borderlines are pushed in by those on the outside.

But this rant isn’t about what’s happening elsewhere; it’s about something that’s happening here. It’s much smaller; much less violent — but a few of the principles being used are the same.

‘Divide and conquer’ is a principle used when those in a position of power cause disagreements between people who might otherwise unite against them.

But there’s nothing to be gained for those inside the diminishing spaces when they accept the invitations to resort to cannibalism.

Right across the country the arts are being marginalised.

The maintenance of a tripartite cultural precinct at Griffith University on its South Bank campus has been maintained for several decades. Griffith University has gained a great deal of prestige from that tripartite cultural presence. Its advertising celebrates it:

‘Our South Bank campus is renowned for excellence in the creative and performing arts . . . Students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and teachers at the cutting-edge of their field. The campus also hosts a variety of shows and exhibitions that are open to the public throughout the year.’

The Griffith University Arts Precinct is one of those rare, increasingly threatened, vitally important zones where the public and the university can meet to celebrate, test, discuss and regenerate contemporary cultural life.

What’s a Conservatorium without a performance stage?

What’s a Film School without an on-campus cinema?

What’s an Art and Design College without a Gallery?

Changes, revisions, readjustments are all part-and-parcel of life in tertiary arts institutions. But there are invisible lines in the sand that cannot be crossed. To do so infringes the vitality of the institution’s value to the broader society it claims to bear an educational responsibility to.

Those public arenas of our arts institutions – the performance stages, the cinemas, the art galleries – belong within the custodianship of the University that has pledged to sustain them. But they also belong to the public.

And even more so, they belong to those aspiring young students who, way into an unimaginable future, may also want to continue their own dream of attending a tertiary art, design, music or film institution.

Hands off such spaces.

They’re dreaming spaces.

They’re exhibiting spaces; spaces for coming together, for sharing ideas, for feeling part of a community, for imagining new futures, for giving us courage to look back into often dark pasts.

They’re spaces for researching, for attracting new audiences, new candidates, some say new ‘stakeholders’. For others, they may also be spaces for accruing research points and a sense of cultural authority. But for others, for many, they’re evidence that not everything that’s worthwhile in life can be boiled down to stats and performance indicators and CPI’s.

Stand together on this one.

We need these fragile spaces to come together to dream. And as the world divides us against each other, we need them so much more.

Griffith University Art Museum
Griffith University Art Museum


Details on the proposal can be accessed at

Submissions should be forwarded to before the deadline on Friday, 15 December.


Concerned students and friends of GUAM are running a DEFEND GUAM petition, you can find it HERE.

Cover image, Current exhibition at GUAM – Each, Other | Pixy Liao and Lin Zhipeng (aka No.223)