Powerhouse move mooted

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Andrew Taylor, Report urges more arts spending, moving cultural institutions to western Sydney, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 February 2015

When Neil Joseph books tickets to a show at the Sydney Opera House, he usually spends more time travelling to and from the venue than watching the performance.

Joseph, an IT consultant, said he had to leave his home in North Parramatta by 5.30pm and endure rush hour to see the start of a show in Sydney’s CBD where the vast majority of cultural venues were located.

The cost of transport and babysitting on top of buying tickets and dinner acts as another disincentive to Joseph and other arts lovers living in western Sydney.

“We don’t get as much opportunity for participating in arts and entertainment events as we should,” he said.

One in 10 Australians and nearly one-third of NSW’s population live in western Sydney, but the region receives just one per cent of Commonwealth arts program funding and 5.5 per cent of the state government’s arts budget, according to the Building Western Sydney’s Cultural Arts Economy report.

“This basic unfairness diminishes the cultural life of the people of Western Sydney and disadvantages the development of the industry,” said David Capra from the Western Sydney Arts & Culture Lobby.

The report compiled by Deloitte for the Sydney Business Chamber and Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith Councils also finds taxpayers spend more than four times more money on subsidising each visitor to venues in Sydney’s CBD compared with western Sydney.

Taxpayers spent an estimated $112.50 on each visitor to the Australian Museum and $74.93 for the Sydney Opera House. The subsidy for each visitor to the Riverside Theatres was $14.15 and Joan Sutherland Performance Arts Centre a mere $6.20.

The report recommends spending $300 million on cultural infrastructure in western Sydney over the next five years and a doubling of the state government arts funding in the region.

It recommends major upgrades to existing venues such as Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres, establishing a new cultural facility in Liverpool and a permanent external performing arts venue.

More provocatively, the report suggests two major tertiary institutions – the Australian Film, Television & Radio School and National Arts School – should relocate to western Sydney. It also backs the already-mooted move of Powerhouse Museum from its present site in inner-city Ultimo

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