The $32 million gallery and performance venue is set to be built in the central Sydney suburb of Chippendale.
Billionaire arts philanthropist Judith Neilson has submitted a development application for the construction of a new $32 million art gallery and performance space, which when completed will rival David Walsh’s MONA in Hobart as the largest privately funded museum in Australia.
The plans for the new gallery, which is to be constructed in the central Sydney suburb of Chippendale, is on the cusp of being approved by the City of Sydney, and is conveniently located near Neilson’s White Rabbit Gallery. The building will also contain a garden and two apartments for visiting artists.
As one might expect of a cutting edge arts venue, the plans for the gallery have been drawn up by a crack-team of architects, designers, and conceptual artists, including the likes of John Wardle Architects, Durbach Block Jaggers, Janet Laurence, and Khai
Zimbabwean-born philanthropist and art collector Neilson is a prolific benefactor, including most recently donating $10 million to the University of New South Wales’ Faculty of Built Environment in January of this year. Neilson is also a committed art collector and boasts the largest collection of millennial contemporary Chinese art outside of China.
An artist rendering of the proposed gallery design.
Sydney’s council planning and development committee will consider the plans for approval in early August. If approved Neilson is required to contribute almost $48,000 to the council to aid in improving public facilities. Early indications suggest the planning application will be successful, and given the boost in tourism generated by a similar venture in Hobart, the benefit to Sydney of the new gallery seem to be ample incentive. In 2011, David Walsh established the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania, which he describes with characteristic swagger as “a subversive adult Disneyland.” MONA has established a reputation for pushing boundaries and courting controversy, and in addition to housing works from Walsh’s private collection, it also hosts large-scale public art, and live performances, including recently a sold-out exhibition of the works of performance art superstar Marina Abramović.
Sydney is fortunate to be home to some of the most generous art philanthropists in Australia, with several exceptional examples of generosity over the past year. A recent donation from the prolific art philanthropist power couple Susan and Isaac Wakil, to Opera Australia, will see ticket prices as low as $20. The lovers of opera donated $1.5 million to company, which will inturn subsidise ticket prices for the next five years. Providing new operagoers and financially disadvantaged individuals the opportunity to afford a seat.
Earlier in the year, the notable businessman and arts philanthropist Peter Weiss bought the former home of the late composer Peter Sculthorpe. Entering a bidding war, which saw him pay $1 million more than its estimated value.
Weiss will continue the Sculthorpe legacy by using the home for music. The studio is set to become a venue for master classes, small intimate performances, and a rehearsal space for students. Weiss continues to be a prominent contributor in the arts world as he donates to a plethora of musical institutions including the Sydney Symphony, ACO, and AWO for over 25 years.
One of Australia’s key arts companies, the Australian Ballet, registered a surplus of $8.54 million in its 2014 Annual Report. The company’s success stems largely from the millions of dollars in donations and philanthropy from its patrons to the Australian Ballet Foundation.