The redevelopment of Darlinghurst’s Eternity Playhouse and the timing of an open day at the site has sparked claims the project is being used by Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP as a political football.
Critics say the redevelopment of the theatre (formerly the City Tabernacle Church) has been subject to protracted delays and the timing of a planned ‘show and tell’ event is a stunt to boost the Lord Mayor’s standing ahead of the 2012 NSW local government elections.
A media release from the City of Sydney said a community show and tell would be held on site at midday, Saturday July 28, with a barbecue and tour to celebrate progress to date.
City News understands that the last such event occurred in 2008, ahead of that year’s local government elections. The upcoming open day will occur six weeks before the 2012 local government elections.
Angela Vithoulkas, the Living Sydney candidate running against Ms Moore, expressed suspicions about the timing. She said: “I leave it to the people of the City of Sydney to decide for themselves if there is any coincidence in the timing of the events for the Eternity Theatre.
“In eight years is this the best they can manage? The first event was held just before the last Council elections and now another, just before [this year’s] Council elections.
“If the current administration thinks they can fool the people of Sydney, they are very much mistaken.”
Linda Scott, ALP candidate for the City of Sydney, stopped short of accusing the Lord Mayor of playing politics with the site, but questioned the time the project was taking to complete.
“Like many City of Sydney projects, it appears this project will be delivered overtime and over budget,” she said.
Jo Holder of the Darlinghurst Residents Action Group (DRAG) noted the timing of the open day and lengthiness of reconstruction work. “It’s my understanding that the last such event was in 2008,” she said.
“It does seem that the redevelopment is taking an inordinate amount of time … the City first purchased the site in 2004.”
However, the Lord Mayor’s office defended the claims, insisting there had been regular open days and citing important heritage issues as the reason for any delay.
A City of Sydney spokesperson said: “Open days have been held regularly (including in 2010) to keep the local community informed.
“The City has undertaken careful and meticulous heritage preservation at all stages.
“The discovery of an ornate ceiling during refurbishment required other work to be put on hold as painstaking and expensive heritage restorations were made … The building also has had drainage issues.
“The remnant of an old house was also uncovered at the rear of the building, which held up construction while the NSW Heritage Office investigated its significance.”
The Eternity Playhouse is due to open early next year.