Inner West Independent

Forum must adapt to the times

Behind the times: the Italian Forum in Leichhardt

OPINION

The Italian Forum’s embattled cultural centre, for so long the unfortunate victim of disorder, spite, bureaucracy and a failure of imagination, will soon be under new management.

Whether Tick Tock Services and its lessee, the Actors Centre Australia, can turn that tide around is at this point anyone’s guess.

But it’s far from the only problem afflicting the place.

After 15 months of living in a Forum apartment, tomorrow I will move out. It is a building whose reputation precedes it, and not in a positive way. Most friends wonder how I managed to stay that long.

I have come to appreciate the Forum for what it is, but I’ve also encountered its many failures.

For residents, it is a prison: inaccessible, often gated, with sparse courtyards and no stairs.

Its enormous commercial vacancy rate is well known and has been addressed in this newspaper many times. To council’s credit, the Renew Leichhardt project will soon begin utilising vacant premises as artistic and cultural spaces.

Food and drink are at the heart of Italian culture and appropriately, restaurants form the backbone of the Forum. But they are relics of a Sydney that has now grown up. The tacky neon signs and cheap plastic seating are unbefitting of a serious food destination.

In my 15 months living there, never once have I eaten at one of the Forum’s restaurants. If I’m going to pay $30 for a main, I’m going to A Tavola in Darlinghurst, or Lucio’s pizza, or perhaps Jamie’s Italian in the CBD.

Dining in Sydney has undergone a revolution and the Italian Forum has been left behind. As a cultural destination and as a residence, it offers little in the way of atmosphere, aesthetics or value.

It cannot hope to succeed without massive change.

Michael Koziol is the news editor

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