Surging from its grassroots, a Canberra icon defines and lives its destiny.

Learn more about this project


Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres – managed by Canberra not-for-profit, Arts Capital – had grown from an artist collective into a thriving multi-arts organisation spanning two historic sites. The approaching centenaries of its venues attracted funding promises from government to address capital works, site usage, and arts and culture development.


Over a period of 18 months, Ellis Jones designed and delivered an integrated research, strategy and design program reflecting our multidisciplinary approach.

The overarching goal was to engage different users of the Ainslie and Gorman sites, as well as ArtsACT and other key Canberra stakeholders, to define a place-based vision for the two precincts and a reflective digital experience, supported by a strategic plan and activity roadmap to make the vision a reality.

Specifically, our work comprised:

  • Quantitative research of the Canberra community to understand perceptions of Ainslie and Gorman, and engagement with arts and culture more broadly.
  • In-depth interviews with precinct tenants, regular users, urban planners, ArtsACT and other key stakeholders.
  • Board and team workshopping of research themes and key challenge areas, including shared value innovation of new programs to address needs defined through research.
  • Place identity co-design with key stakeholders and tenants, leading to a future state map and narrative definition, and a spectrum of near- and longer-term activations.
  • Contribution of outcomes to the architectural planning and design process.
  • Support in the development of a strategic plan, including guidance on activities to strengthen the likelihood of funding outcomes.
  • Brand and visual identity design.
  • Digital experience design.
  • Website design and development (with our friends at Bone Digital)


The new Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres branding, and launch of the new website and digital presence, was timed just with the release of the public-facing strategic plan.

Together, they validated the input of stakeholders, provided confidence to tenants, and reaffirmed the value that could be created by ArtsACT funding. That funding, never a certainty, arrived in late 2022, representing a transformative opportunity for the arts in Canberra.

Ainslie and Gorman are incredible cultural assets, host to dance, music, visual art and cross-disciplinary discourse. The many different people who use the precincts now know they will have the security of safe, accessible heritage buildings, integrated with the required technology for contemporary creative expression.

The highly collaborative multidisciplinary process saw a range of knowledge transferred to the Arts Capital board and team throughout the project, providing capability uplift that will benefit the organisation for many years to come.

Importantly, with quantitative and qualitative evidence, and the energy of co-design participants, the project clearly placed Ainslie and Gorman centres as cherished assets in the cultural landscape of Canberra and, more broadly, Australia.

An iPad displaying the homepage of the Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres website.
Four posters for Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, side by side.
Two iPhones, one displaying the homepage of the Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres website and the other displaying the navigation menu.