The Arts Company

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What is The Arts Company?

The Arts Company is the organisation that manages the operations of the Portland Visual Arts Complex. Situated at 19-21 Julia St, Portland, in the city's heritage precinct, in refurbished heritage buildings, the Portland Visual Arts Complex comprises:


Studios, purpose-built for art, leadlighting, woodturning, print-making, fibre and photography.


Galleries, for display and exhibition.


Shop front and sales outlet.


The June Hedditch Studio-Apartments for artist residencies.

All studios have professional-standard equipment. People who join a group can access the workshops and studios in a supportive learning environment. The groups often run special activities - classes, workshops, painting days - to teach skills, and also hold exhibitions.

The Arts Company studios are occupied by seven visual arts groups. They are:


The Portland Artists' Society


The Fibre Group


The Leadlighters' Guild


The Woodturners' Guild


The Pioneer Quilters


Portland Bay Press

(all member groups of CEMA Inc.) and


The Portland Camera Club Inc.

The Arts Company is completely volunteer run.

How did Portland's arts community achieve such extensive arts facilities?

By 1985, (especially during Portland's 150th Anniversary in 1984) there had been many community arts projects. They were achieved with the help of the Community Arts Officer and with Arts Victoria, Victorian Arts Council and 150th Anniversary funds. All Projects brought visiting artists to work with local people, developing art works and leaving residual skills and equipment; there were three Workshop Groups - Fibre (tapestry), Screen Printing (the Portland Access Printshop) and the Woodturners' Guild. A Leadlighters' Guild was formed in 1989 following a community leadlighting project.

The Workshop Groups needed a permanent home for their heavy equipment. They took up temporary residence in dilapidated Council-owned buildings at 19-21 Julia St., a 19th century former grocery complex. They proved to be an ideal location, so in the 1980's and early 1990's CEMA Inc. and the Workshop Groups successfully lobbied Council to refurbish the buildings for Arts use. This was completed in 1995 at a cost of $498,000, of which the Arts community undertook to raise $48,000. This was achieved by May 2000 and included a $22,000 grant from Arts Victoria. Arts Victoria also granted $7,000 to set up The Arts Company's gallery and sales outlet.

The original Workshop Groups were joined by the Portland Artists' Society, the Portland Pioneer Quilters, and the Portland Camera Club Inc. to form The Arts Company Inc. in 1995. Portland Bay Press, which has excellent etching equipment in a studio which doubles as a gallery, also joined The Arts Company in 2003.

A Shire-wide Cultural Forum in June 1998 identified great potential for The Arts Company. Its facilities are of professional standard and very unusual in a remote regional area. With some paid administration it could expand its services to artists and the community, but this is yet to be achieved.

The Arts Company's Artist Accommodation Program

Above the former Union Inn, the June Hedditch Apartments (so named for a Portland arts activist with wide cultural interests) are available for visiting artists.

Artists using the on-site accommodation may also access Portland's arts facilities by arrangement - visual arts studios at The Arts Company, and performance at the CEMA Arts Centre. On this web site, see:


June Hedditch Apartments


Artist Accommodation

Community Arts Workshops

In 2007 we began a series of regular Arts Workshops and activities for the community, initially under the management of council employee Amy Gartlan, and then in 2008 under her successor Nikki Adams. Details of these workshops can be found on the "Coming Events" page or you can browse the workshops flier here.

In 2008 we obtained a sponsorship for these workshops with Portland Aluminium who will continue to support them at least until 2010.

Committee of Management

The Committee of Management comprises representatives of each resident group, together with a Shire Council and a CEMA Inc. representative. It coordinates joint building use, manages the shop and accounts, organises volunteer rosters, and occasionally coordinates workshops and events.

The Committee of Management meets on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 5.30 pm at The Arts Company.

Group members are rostered to open the Argyle Gallery at 19 Julia St. (volunteers are always welcome to assist), and Portland Bay Press, the etching studio at No. 21, also holds frequent exhibitions.

Contact Us


Phone/FAX: (03) 5523 6566

Snail Mail: The Arts Company Management Committee Inc.

19 Julia St


Victoria, 3305