Bulletin 19: 23 June 2017: Post-budget gossip……

The Budget

We have been told for over a year that huge amounts of work was being done so that major revelations would be made in the current budget but few people were expecting anything sensible to emerge. Our cynicism was well-based – there was next to nothing and no new information.

As far as I can see, the budget does not indicate that there will be significant new action this year.

In regard to the proposal for moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, the listed expenditure for 2017-18 is $500 000. This is part of the $10 million previously announced, so effectively nothing will happen. See this webpage.  Elsewhere, this is listed as Planning for the extended business case for the New Museum in Western Sydney that will be the flagship campus for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

There may be money available from other sources, eg land acquisition, which has separate budget, but the idea previously promulgated that the planning process was in preparation for the budget is quite misleading.

In the Budget papers no 2 capital expenditure for MAAS as a whole over the past two years has been $36 million, and for this year $2.5 million is budgeted which includes the $500 000 for the move investigation. This reduction may be because of the completion of Castle Hill works. In general expenditure, it appears that the ‘expenses’ budget for MAAS as a whole will be down 16% from last year, with an allocation of $47.3 million.

The museum does not figure in the Arts Minister’s press release, here.

Ho Hum.

Upper House Inquiry – special sitting 6 June

The Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin, appeared with a supporting group of advisers.

The outcomes were rather mixed. He proclaimed that his government was bringing a commitment to funding to the arts and culture in this State that is without recent precedent. We are committed to a once-in-a-generation investment in our cultural infrastructure’.

The government remains committed to providing Parramatta with an iconic museum, still to be opened in 2022 to be the MAAS headquarters. The David Jones car park site was still the designated site, but it had not been bought yet. However Mr Harwin was now seeking to ensure all possible options are investigated (hurrah!) and that ‘the possibility of retaining part or all of the Ultimo site as cultural space [will] be among them’.

The reported suggestion by Stewart Ayers, Minister for Western Sydney, for the museum to be broken down into bits with some of it housed in Penrith, some in Parramatta, Liverpool and Sydney was not government policy. Mr Harwin had not met with North Parramatta Regional Action Group, which has conducted the most thorough investigation of Parramatta organisations’ desires as regards cultural development.

Mr Limkin Acting Executive Director, Cultural Infrastructure Program Management Office, Department of Planning and Environment, confirmed that the groups working on the move proposal were the project team, project steering committee and the project control group. When asked how many people were involved, and what was the budget, Mr Limkin took the question on notice, meaning that he would reply within 21 days.

The reporting date for the inquiry has been extended to 25 August 2017. 

Is UTS involved?

The Financial Review on 21 June had a story from ‘sources close to the University’ that the University of Technology is in ‘very close negotiations’ with the NSW government to buy the PHM. Powerhouse Museum ‘to expand its campus either for classes or for student accommodation’. 

And now for something completely different….

In the period 1974 to 1976 TAFE investigated the possibility of taking over the derelict Powerhouse Building for use as a state headquarters of the School of Plumbing and Sheetmetal for the teaching of tradesmen, licence holders, technicians and educators in a whole range of relevant fields. Graeme Dodds was deeply involved, and has the relevant documents, including some quite detailed (and beautifully drawn) plans. The idea was abandoned in 1976, but at the last meeting with Pat Hills, the possibility of using the building as the PHM was canvassed. Under premier Wran the proposal was adopted and the rest is history.

As part of this process some interesting and, I believe, unique photos of the derelict building were taken. Some are on the website. Go to this page.

Tom Lockley 
(tomlockley@gmail.com , 0403 615 134, PO Box 301 Pyrmont 2009)

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/