By Tang Li
Community groups and politicians are fearful that the proposal to shut down the Powerhouse Museum and relocate it to Western Sydney will soon become a reality since the re-election of the Baird Government.
A Save the Powerhouse rally will be held on this Saturday 30 May at the corner of Harris and McArthur Streets in Ultimo from 2.45pm. Speakers at the rally include Lord Mayor Clover Moore, academic and feminist Eva Cox and Greens member for Balmain Jamie Parker. Also present will be Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich, and the Alternative Media Group of Australia’s Group Publisher Lawrence Gibbons.
Infrastructure NSW first proposed the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum in late 2014.
Since then, the Baird Government has confirmed that it would sell the current Powerhouse site to high-rise developers for $150 to 200 million. These funds would go towards relocating the museum to Western Sydney, including constructing a new museum building, in a bid to develop cultural facilities in a fast-growing region.
However, the campaign founders of Save the Powerhouse, along with members of Friends of Ultimo and Ultimo Village Voice, have fiercely opposed the relocation due to its heritage status and importance to the arts, technology and tourism sectors.
“It’s a vital component of the ‘cultural cluster’ across the CBD, and a major tourist destination. It attracts thousands of local, interstate and international visitors annually, who also help to support local businesses,” said the Save the Powerhouse founders, who wished to remain anonymous.
The campaign instead recommends re-investing in programs and facilities to increase visitor numbers, and consult Western Sydney residents about developing and investing in appropriate cultural facilities for their area.
“If they want another Powerhouse (in addition to the Discovery Centre) it could become a satellite of the Ultimo museum, and share its collections,” they said.
According to the campaign founders, under current regulations a developer would construct a 28-metre high apartment block on the Harris Street site, “creating yet another massive ‘wall’ that isolates Ultimo from the city and the upgraded Goods Line.”
The proposed forced closure has received backlash from City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore following the decision to sell the property to developers without public consultation and detailed plans.
“While I strongly support the need for the State Government to respond to the cultural needs of Western Sydney, important decisions about the future cultural life of metropolitan Sydney should not be shaped by pitting region against region,” the Lord Mayor said.
You can visit the Save the Powerhouse Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/savethepowerhouse
& sign Jamie Parker’s online petition here http://www.jamieparker.org/no_privatisation_keep_the_powerhouse_petition?recruiter_id=103221