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NSW budget includes $1.3 billion commitment to arts and culture

NSW budget includes $1.3 billion commitment to arts and culture
June 23, 2021

The 2021/22 NSW budget has included a $1.3 billion commitment to the arts, including a $40 million blockbuster exhibitions, confirmed funding for a new cultural precinct and provided important operational funding to settle in new infrastructure projects.

Announcing the commitment to the arts as highlighting the role it plays in job creation and tourism attraction, NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet advised “arts, screen, and our cultural institutions and infrastructure play a critical role in the state’s economy, from skills development and job creation to attracting cultural tourism.

“Maximising our investment in this area will leverage NSW’s current capabilities, further position the State as a world-class centre for performances, events, exhibitions and cultural visitation, as well as develop new state cultural assets for future generations.”

Unveiled yesterday, the 2021/22 NSW budget announcement promised to revive the state following the devastating economic impact of COVID-19.

Funding commitments included:

  • $222.2 million for the Art Gallery of New South Wales to operate one of Australia’s flagship art museums, including $152.7 million for the completion and opening of the new Sydney Modern facility;
  • $156.2 million for the new Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta, with new exhibition spaces of extraordinary scale to support a constantly changing program, as part of an $840 million total Government contribution;
  • $127.1 million for the State Library of New South Wales to continue collecting and preserving materials, encourage research and learning, and provide support to local libraries across the state;
  • $82.1 million for the Australian Museum to operate expanded public spaces and improved amenities within the recently re-opened historic complex;
  • $73.6 million for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences to operate the Ultimo Powerhouse Museum, the Sydney Observatory, Museums Discovery Centre, Castle Hill and, on opening, Powerhouse Parramatta;
  • $33.5 million for the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales to continue to manage, maintain and interpret some of the most historically important houses, gardens and museums in New South Wales;
  • $30 million ($60 million over two years) for the Creative Capital program to deliver new cultural infrastructure projects in Greater Sydney and regional New South Wales to boost community participation in the arts, along with cultural tourism;
  • $15 million for a Cahill High Line, inspired by the Manhattan High Line, to temporarily transform the Cahill Expressway into a contemporary landscape which will host a series of events and provide a viewing deck for New Year’s Eve fireworks and Sydney Harbour until the opening of the 2022 Sydney Festival;
  • $10 million ($40 million over four years) to attract major blockbuster art and museum exhibitions to NSW, showcasing the world’s finest treasures in our world-renowned cultural institutions;
  • $6 million ($24 million over four years) to expand the State’s Arts and Cultural Funding Program to incentivise innovation, vibrancy and creativity within the cultural sector. The uplift will focus on funding small and medium arts companies, along with funding to enable additional regional touring;
  • $5.2 million for the Sydney Opera House to upgrade recording and broadcast studio equipment, supporting the expansion of national and international audience participation and underpinning the Opera House’s digital education program
  • $4.8 million ($168.2 million over four years) for the transformation of the Ultimo Powerhouse Museum, featuring Australia’s first dedicated design and fashion museum and an academy supporting 60 regional students to experience immersive education and exhibition programs.

Backing ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions
Welcoming the backing for more blockbuster art and cultural exhibitions, Australian Museum Director and Chief Executive, Kim McKay welcomed the funding, noting the impact it will have on attracting big-ticket international exhibitions.

McKay noted “this new funding will provide NSW cultural institutions, like the Australian Museum, with a greater ability to attract major global exhibitions to our State, like Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs, which previously may have been out of our reach.”

Scheduled to open in the summer 2023, the agreement by the NSW Government will enable the Australian Museum to host the Egyptian touring exhibition – the largest collection of Ramses II items to ever leave Egypt.

New Cultural Destination 
$119 million will also be committed to reactivating Sydney’s Macquarie Street East as a cultural and social destination, with the initial focus on creating an iconic public plaza between the CBD and The Domain.

As part of continued efforts to revitalise Sydney's CBD, free general admission to cultural institutions in and around the Macquarie Street precinct will also be available for the next 12-months. The funding agreement will make available $10 million per year, for the next four years, to the state’s cultural institutions and organisations.

Treasurer Perrottet said the transformation of the southern end of the street would create a vibrant cultural destination by day and night, noting “Macquarie Street is part of the very foundations of modern Sydney and these historical spaces should be celebrated and enjoyed not locked away and hidden from view.”

Images: The Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition will be coming to the Australian Museum in 2023 (top) and the concept for the redevelopment of the Powerhouse Museum (below).

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22nd June 2021 - NSW budget includes $100 voucher for swimming lessons for children aged three to six

16th June 2021 - $480 million to transform Sydney’s Powerhouse Ultimo into design and fashion precinct

28th May 2021 - NIDA to host Australian Performing Arts Exchange in September

10th May 2021 - Planning underway for first season at Goulburn Performing Arts Centre

6th May 2021 - Sydney Harbour Trust reveals plan to transform Cockatoo Island into arts and culture precinct

26th March 2021 - Just 26% of Federal Government’s June 2020 arts rescue package has been spent

18th March 2021 - Lead architect sought for Tamworth’s $128 million arts and cultural precinct

26th February 2021 - Newcastle’s inaugural New Annual festival boosts Newcastle’s arts sector

21st February 2021 - Cinema owner to run against Federal Arts Minister at next election

3rd February 2021 - Opera Australia leads performing arts industry in COVIDSafe performance practices

14th December 2020 - Sydney’s redeveloped Walsh Bay Arts Precinct welcomes back performing arts companies

14th December 2020 - $18 million upgrades to cement reputation of National Art School as leading arts and education precinct

26th November 2020 - Sydney’s Artspace to receive over $5 million transformation

20th November 2020 - Australian Government announces unlocking of arts rescue funds and venue capacity increases

11th November 2020 - Art experience promoter slams Governments for not releasing committed arts funding

17th May 2021 - Australian Museum showcases culture of First Nations people in events and exhibition

26th November 2020 - The Australian Museum reopens to public with free admission following $57.5 million transformation

1st February 2017 - State Library of NSW secures $15 million in private donations for new world‐class galleries

18th March 2019 - Death of longtime Art Gallery of NSW Director Edmund Capon

14th June 2017 - Art Gallery of NSW gets $244 million funding for Sydney Modern expansion


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