Bulletin 20: Consultation at last?

July 14 2017: Brief summary for busy people:

Meetings will shortly be held, convened by the Arts Ministry, to enable a 'conversation' about the Powerhouse 'move' project. There is concern that these will not investigate the key issue, namely the lack of examination of the basic idea. Evidence shows that the basic plan is very flawed. This bulletin expands this point and suggests that the principal thrust of our initial engagement in the meetings should be to ensure that they are worthwhile. We, (the anti-'move' lobbies) want Parramatta to have appropriate museums, but not at the cost of sacrificing the Powerhouse. This bulletin gives background about this and suggests a course of action.

If you are intending to attend any of the meetings and would like to discuss how to proceed please email me on  tomlockley@gmail.com . This would be greatly appreciated.

For fuller information, read on:

The planned consultation meetings

You may remember that the Minister for the Arts recently set up a web page inviting people to register for consultative meetings regarding the Powerhouse 'move'  (this page).

The people who registered have received an email inviting them to apply for places in consultative meetings at Parramatta and at Ultimo, and people are invited to apply for places. There is a copy of the email at the end of this bulletin. There probably is still time for you to register on the website and then book for a place in a consultative meeting,

I believe that there is a danger that it might be a consultative meeting that is aimed at not letting the project come under scrutiny. To explain what I mean, I am working on a question that I hope to get answered, in a positive way, as soon as possible. Here it is, with background material that makes it necessary:

Effectively, everyone involved in the discussions about the Powerhouse supports the improvement of cultural facilities wherever it occurs. 

Infrastructure Australia, in November 2014, on page 114 of its recommendations document proposed that the upgrading of cultural facilities in Parramatta should involve ‘urgent consideration of the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to a Parramatta cultural precinct around the Riverside Theatre Complex, the old David Jones site, Parramatta Stadium and the old Kings School’. 

Our objection to this proposal is fundamental. The ‘move’ project was announced, within a matter of days, as a done deal, with no consideration of its viability. The museum would be moved, and the present site sold to pay for it. There is absolutely no evidence of consultation with any expert group.

On the evidence so far available, this process cannot be carried out without the waste of some hundreds of millions of dollars, to say nothing of the destruction of a unique heritage building.

Mass public action forced the holding of an Upper House inquiry, and on the subject of the 'move' 160 submissions, including those from such groups as the National Trust, were presented, and over twenty hours of inquiry was held. The overwhelming public and expert opinion is against the move as originally proposed.

 There has been some softening of the original project, but the modifications to the original plan have been articulated in a haphazard fashion and still do not address the key issues.

 We are now at last being asked to give input to the decision-making process.

In conducting this process, the proponents of the move have two viable options.

 The first is to raise the veil of secrecy and release details of such things as the business plan and underlying rationale for their proposal, and thereby convince us that they have been misunderstood and have a viable scheme that neither destroys our heritage or wastes hundreds of millions of dollars. At the moment there is clear evidence that no such scheme exists. If it does, it must be publicised.  

The second option is to put all cards on the table and open the whole idea of improving the cultural facilities of Parramatta and elsewhere to public input. There is a way forward that will achieve the aim of improving cultural facilities elsewhere and maintaining Australia’s only museum of Arts and Sciences in its present location, which is the most accessible location for the whole country and indeed the world, not just to Sydney.

 An enormous body of expertise is available among those that become involved into the process, and working together, we can achieve great things.

 The proponents of the move have a third choice, which is totally unviable. That is to persist in the current authoritarian, uncommunicative and fundamentally wasteful approach.

 However, the simple fact is that there is a huge alliance of people opposed to the destruction of Australia’s only museum of Arts and Sciences, in its present building. Any concrete move to act in this regard will be met by civil resistance of unprecedented strength.

 We therefore ask the panel: Which of the two workable consultation options proposed above is to underpin the current round of meetings? 

Copy of email sent by the office of the Minister for the Arts

I am writing to you because you have expressed an interest in receiving updates on The MAAS Project.

The NSW Government is working with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) to build a truly iconic museum in Western Sydney.

To deliver the best possible Museum, a business case has been established to ensure all options are investigated, tested and analysed. The business case has been expanded to include an arts and cultural space in Ultimo that considers keeping some MAAS presence at the current Powerhouse Museum site.

I invite you to continue the conversation. 

Two public meetings will be held:

Wednesday 26 July 
6:30pm – 8:00pm (Registration from 6pm)
PARKROYAL Parramatta
RSVP essential via Eventbrite

Monday 31 July
6:30pm – 8:00pm (Registration from 6pm)
Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Ultimo
RSVP essential via Eventbrite


NB: Register for the meeting location of your convenience. Capacity for the venues are limited. Registrations will close 5pm, 21 July.


For all the masochists who have managed to read all this to the very end, many thanks!

Tom Lockley 
(tomlockley@gmail.com , 0403 615 134, PO Box 301 Pyrmont 2009
tomlockley@gmail.com is the best method of communication)

Australia’s major museum of arts and sciences in Sydney’s most evocative heritage building. For more information
https://powerhousemuseumalliance.com/  See also: https://www.facebook.com/savepowerhousemuseum/  https://www.facebook.com/savethepowerhouse/ http://lockoweb.com/phm/