THE creation of a cultural precinct at Barangaroo and Walsh Bay that would include a new 2000-seat lyric theatre should be an ”utmost priority” for the state government, says a report the government commissioned.
PLANNING SYDNEY’S CULTURAL FACILITIES is the first study in 16 years looking at Sydney’s long-term cultural needs. It was commissioned by the former Labor government and prepared by Rob Brookman, the former general manager of the Sydney Theatre Company, for government agencies including Destination NSW, Tourism NSW, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and the City of Sydney.
After holding 94 consultations with representatives from the performing arts, museums and galleries, Mr Brookman has compiled a list of Sydney’s cultural needs for the next 15 years.
The last such study was commissioned by the City of Sydney 16 years ago. Since then Sydney has added a recital hall, a lyric theatre at the casino, and the Sydney Theatre, as well as refurbishing the Capital Theatre, Belvoir Street Theatre and the Verbrugghen Hall.
It said the future use of the Domain for cultural events such as Opera in the Park was at risk because of the extremely high costs of staging events which could become uneconomic for the Sydney Festival, and Sydney has missed staging several musical premieres because of a lack of suitable theatre space.
Recommendations and comments in the report include:
* provision of a new Lyric Theatre which would cost about $150 million
* proposed that the new Lyric Theatre should be built in the central zone at Barangaroo – between the commercial towers in the south and new headland in the north – would be ideal for a theatre and a large capacity outdoor venue
* to keep pace with Melbourne and Brisbane, Sydney also needs to build outdoor multi-purpose venues including one that could hold 20,000 people for free and ticketed events, and another for circus tents
* within a 15-year time frame there may well be demand for two new Lyric Theatres
”Sydney has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create something of extraordinary value and this review argues strongly that the conscious development of Barangaroo/Walsh Bay as a cultural precinct should be of the utmost priority,” the report says.
The NSW Minister for the Arts, George Souris is quoted as saying it is too early to say which proposals might be supported, but ”We recognise that there are areas which have been neglected over the past 16 years and need updating and we will be considering the report’s recommendations over the coming months,”