Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Sydney philanthropists propose Cockatoo Island transformation into arts destination

Sydney philanthropists propose Cockatoo Island transformation into arts destination
February 17, 2020

A not for profit group, the Cockatoo Island Foundation has put forward a proposal to the Federal Government to transform Cockatoo Island into a sustainable, world class arts and culture destination while preserving its history, public ownership and access.

In its submission to the independent review of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, the Cockatoo Island Foundation proposes a partnership with government to create an exciting contemporary art and culture experience with all art specifically commissioned for the site.

Under the proposal, the indigenous, colonial and naval history of the island would also be celebrated

The Foundation is supported by philanthropists Tony Berg and Danny Goldberg and has committed at least $80 million into making the former convict site, naval dockyard, industrial school for girls and reformatory into a globally recognised arts and culture destination that recognises the long presence of the Eora people. Simon Mordant has been working with this group from the beginning and is yet to join the Foundation board.

The submission lists examples such as MONA in Hobart, the High Line in New York and Japan’s art island Naoshima as examples of reimagining existing sites into vibrant areas for local and international visitors.

Cockatoo Island would feature large scale artworks which are larger than the works typically exhibited in Australian museums and galleries, providing a bridge between Sydney’s CBD and western Sydney as well as showcasing the heritage buildings and the island’s indigenous history.

Cockatoo Island Foundation spokesperson Tony Berg advised “Cockatoo Island is one of Sydney’s hidden gems. With an iconic location and significant indigenous and colonial history, the site has the potential to be one of Australia’s greenest cultural attractions.

“At present there is no clear vision for the future of the island and no clear sense of what its owners and stakeholders want it to be. Remediation costs are estimated to be $194 million and the island has significant maintenance costs with limited programming in its present state.

“Investment is needed to make the island more attractive and accessible to tourists and the local community. We believe a model that maintains public ownership and access while investing in a range of arts and cultural experiences for visitors and the local community will make sure the island lives up to its potential.

Berg added “we believe that a project of this scope and scale can only be successfully realised through a partnership between the Australian Government as the continuing owner of the site, the NSW Government due to the island’s location and tourism potential and philanthropic interest which have the cultural and financial resources to achieve a visionary outcome.

“We have put forward this proposal to the review of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and look forward to discussing the idea further with the reviewers and Commonwealth Government.”

The Cockatoo Island Foundation is a not for profit organisation supported by a group of philanthropists who have a shared vision to revitalise Cockatoo Island. Founding directors of the foundation are Anthony Berg AM, Danny Goldberg OAM, Karen Martin. Simon Mordant AM has been working alongside this group from the beginning.

Image: Bharti Kher’s artwork in 2016 Sydney Biennale at Cockatoo Island investigates the readymade, minimalism, repetition, identity, transformation, mythology and narratives.
Credit Karen Sweaney, Editor of Australasian Leisure Management

Related Articles

7th February 2020 - New Zealand performing arts, recreation and sport sectors generate $6.2 billion in economic activity

7th February 2020 - New Council magazine focuses on Cairns’ arts and cultural scene

7th February 2020 - Araluen Arts Centre launches 2020 program of events and exhibitions

22nd January 2020 - Equity praises New Zealand Prime Minister’s commitment to the arts

22nd January 2020 - Five-year funding for leading Northern Territory Arts Organisations

20th January 2020 - National Regional Arts Fellowship Program opens for applications

16th January 2020 - Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns rebranded as Bulmba-ja Arts Centre

6th December 2019 - Prime Minister Morrison abolishes Department of Communications and Arts as part of public service restructure

27th November 2019 - Sunshine Coast arts sector to receive funding boost

19th November 2019 - Artists take the lead in developing program for 2020 New Zealand Festival of the Arts

15th November 2019 - NSW Government approves funding for redevelopment of Walsh Bay arts precinct

25th October 2019 - Western Australian arts organisations secure significant funding

18th October 2019 - Australia Council’s annual report shows impact of ‘modest investments in arts and creativity’

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


Technogym is the leading company in the Wellness and Fitness field all over the world. With 2,200 employees, 14 branches in Europe, U.S., South America, Asia  and Australia, Technogym exports its…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness


BH Fitness

BH Fitness, part of the long-standing and iconic bike manufacturer BH Group, is a global leader in fitness equipment for both Commercial and Home markets. The company, with the headquarters based in…

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Sport / Technology / Wellness



SLE Worldwide Australia is a Managing General Underwriter specialising in insuring risks in the world of Sports, Leisure and Entertainment. Be it relaxing, playing, organising or watching sports,…

read more

Insurance / Venues



Vticket Pty Ltd is the Australian and New Zealand distributor for Gateway Ticketing Systems Inc., the world leader in high-speed access control, admission control and ticketing software for the…

read more

Attractions / Security / Technology / Ticketing / Venues



We are the leading providers of kids fun multi-sports programs for Sport and Recreation Centres. Programs cover twelve common sports as well as Gross Motor Skill Development and suit children from as…

read more

Fitness / Play / Recreation / Sport / Wellness


SeatGeek Asia Pacific

SeatGeek is a search engine and mobile-focused ticket marketplace that allows fans to buy and sell tickets for live events. As of August 2018, SeatGeek has exited the Australian, New…

read more

Entertainment / Sport / Technology / Ticketing / Venues



As of 2018, TicketServ operates as SeatGeek Asia Pacific Pty Limited, part of international ticketing platform SeatGeek. Click here to contact SeatGeek Asia Pacific via their entry in…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Events / Sport / Ticketing


@leisure Planners

@leisure is a team of experienced leisure, aquatic and sports facility managers and planners, with market modelling, sports management, recreation planning, business and GIS qualifications. We have…

read more



get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business