By Emily Contador-Kelsall
Ultimo residents are concerned by the state governments announcement that $10 million will be spent planning for the move of the Powerhouse Museum.
In last week’s budget $30 million was allocated over four years to the arts in western Sydney, of that $10 million has been dedicated over two years to planning for the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Arts Troy Grant said this budget shows “the government’s commitment to improving public access and fostering excellence in arts and culture”.
But spokesperson and the co-founder of the Save the Powerhouse Campaign said the community is confused as they “don’t know [the study’s] intended impact” or the effect it will have on the relocation of the Powerhouse.
“We don’t know what this $10 million is for. We do know that it’s going to be a two year study so clearly nothing definite can happen until after this study,” the spokesperson said.
“Initially it was just going to be a study, then it was going to be part of the redevelopment of a new cultural complex in or near Parramatta and that’s really all we know.”
A spokesperson for Minister for the Arts Troy Grant told City Hub the cost of the new museum will be determined from a business case which will be prepared as part of the planning process.
“The $10 million will be used to commence planning for the relocation of the museum from Ultimo to Parramatta, which will anchor a wider Parramatta cultural precinct,” the spokesperson said.
But Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that the closure and sale of the Powerhouse Museum and expansion of cultural facilities in western Sydney are not mutually exclusive.
According to the Save the Powerhouse spokesperson, the local community, and people from across the state and country have been steadily fighting against the relocation of the Powerhouse to Parramatta.
The heritage of the museum, its historical role in Ultimo and importance as a cultural centre, are some of the key arguments that have surfaced against the relocation.
The Save the Powerhouse Campaign is currently working with Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who is coordinating a parliamentary petition that currently has around 4,000 signatures.
“As soon as we get 10,000 signatures, it automatically qualifies us for a debate in parliament which we definitely want because this may well clarify some of the confusion,” the spokesperson said.
While Parramatta Council would welcome the move, local, state and federal politicians have backed the community opposition, including Clr Moore, Greens MP for Balmain Jamie Parker and Tanya Plibersek.
Mr Parker has slammed the government’s allocation of $10 million to the museum’s move as “short-sighted”.
“The allocation of $10 million to move the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta is simply a waste of public money, and reflects the Government’s contempt for Sydney’s arts and heritage,” he said in a statement.
“The plan will deprive Sydneysiders of an important cultural space once the iconic Powerhouse building is sold to developers for private apartments.”