With the NSW election looming, arts organisations are releasing their report cards comparing each party’s commitment to the arts in the state. The arts has received more attention than is perhaps usual this election with Gladys Berejiklian’s government and the Labor opposition offering very different visions moving forward.
One of the key areas of contention is the government’s plans to relocate the Powerhouse Museum to western Sydney – plans which include building a 1,500-seat lyric theatre at the Powerhouse’s current site – and Labor’s alternative to keep the Powerhouse at Ultimo and instead build a $500 million ‘cultural institution’ at Parramatta.
The National Trust has called for the government’s planned move to be abandoned, while the founder of The Balnaves Foundation, Neil Balnaves, recently took out a full-page advertisement in The Australiancondemning it. “The NSW Liberal government doesn’t get the arts,” Balnaves said in the advertisement. “By the government’s own reckoning, the arts annually contributes $16.4 billion to the NSW economy and 120,000 jobs, yet government annual funding to the arts is a miserable $542 million.”
“The argument (not to move it) is not terribly complex,” he says, saying that the Powerhouse Museum “certainly needs updating but it has a wider...