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Sydney’s redeveloped Walsh Bay Arts Precinct welcomes back performing arts companies

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

The NSW Government today announced the successful completion of Wharf 4/5 of Sydney’s Walsh Bay Arts Precinct, officially welcomed back its performing arts tenants.

The $371 million redevelopment has provided the six resident companies - Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Gondwana Choirs and The Song Company - with brand new theatres, rehearsal spaces and studios, while ensuring the preservation of the heritage building and its intricate network of supporting piers.

With each of the companies having operated out of temporary accommodation during the refurbishment of the harbourside precinct, the return to Walsh Bay will be welcomed given each has been impacted by the forced Coronavirus shutdown since March.

The companies will progressively move back to Wharf 4/5 over the coming months and will announce dates for their return on their websites, with the public to return to the precinct during 2021.

Commenting on the project, NSW Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin said the completion of Wharf 4/5 is an exciting step towards the rejuvenation of the performing arts precinct, establishing it as a premier arts destination and enhancing Sydney’s reputation as an innovative global player in arts and cultural tourism.

Minister Harwin explained “the NSW Government recognises the vital importance of arts and culture in enriching our lives and the essential role it plays in our wellbeing and the essential role it plays in our economy. This role has never been more evident than this year, with arts and culture our place of refuge and constant source of inspiration and hope through challenging times, and a vital sector of employment.

“As our arts and cultural sector begins to repair from the pandemic and performances return to the stage, this timely reopening of the newly renovated Wharf 4/5 will bring employment to the arts sector and create innovative opportunities for diverse and cutting-edge cultural works in the brand new, purpose-built arts facilities.

“With improved performance spaces and improved patron amenities situated right on Sydney Harbour, Wharf 4/5 now offers a truly world-class cultural experience for all to enjoy as we welcome audiences back to the precinct this summer.”

The external walkway around Wharf 4/5 is now open, allowing the public to walk around the foreshore, with Bangarra Head of Design, Jake Nash, having been commissioned to create the locally-inspired staging diagram to show the areas accessible to the public for the cultural hub, while giving visitors a sense of creativity that permeates the area.

The overall cost for the redevelopment, which includes the ongoing work on neighbouring Pier 2/3 to accommodate the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Bell Shakespeare, has increased to almost three times its original estimate.

Defending this, Minister Harwin added “when it was originally announced the project had a much smaller scope," he said. "The scope has increased several times during the course of the construction, plus engineering problems (were) identified … which were totally unexpected and couldn’t have been foreseen at the time the costings were done."

Sydney Theatre Company (STC) Executive Director Patrick McIntyre said he was "super excited" to be returning to the wharf after two years in temporary premises at Fox Studios.

McIntyre noted "all the spaces are beautiful.

“They are safer, they have better visitor amenity- they are fit-for-purpose in the 21st century."

In common with other theatre companies, STC was last week allowed to increase the number of patrons to 75% capacity. The relaxation of health guidelines has come at the right time for STC, with its current production, The Picture of Dorian Gray starring Eryn Jean Norvill, receiving rave reviews and an extended season.

Images: The Sydney Dance Company in their new space (top), Walsh Bay Wharf 4/5 looking towards Barangaroo (middle) and Bangarra Dance Theatre dancers rehearsing in their new performance theatre (below). All images courtesy of Arthur Vay.

Related Articles

3rd December 2020 - New appointments announced for NSW cultural institutions

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

5th November 2020 - Save Our Stages NSW calls on public to help save the state’s live music industry

25th September 2020 - NSW Government relaxes restrictions for cinemas, events, sport and theatre

10th July 2020 - Philanthropists’ multimillion-dollar lifeline to save Sydney’s Carriageworks arts hub

18th June 2020 - Social distancing rules make it financially unviable for Sydney theatres to reopen

26th May 2020 - NSW Government commits $50 million package to under-pressure arts sector

10th April 2020 - NSW Arts Minister resigns after Coronavirus lockdown breach

14th March 2020 - Sydney Theatre Company responds to advice on Coronavirus

17th November 2019 - Construction commences on the Sydney Modern Project

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

26th August 2019 - NSW Arts Minister concedes shortage of theatres in Sydney

19th June 2019 - NSW budget sees cuts for Destination NSW while arts in Sydney gets $800 million boost

3rd October 2018 - Major redevelopment of Sydney harbourside arts precinct begins

17th July 2018 - Sydney Theatre Company wins in 10 categories at 2018 Helpmann Awards

16th July 2018 - Bangarra Dance Theatre and Muriel’s Wedding The Musical the early winners at 2018 Helpmann Awards

22nd June 2018 - NSW Government invests in musical theatre and visitor economy

1st June 2018 - Sydney Theatre Company records biggest ever deficit

24th May 2018 - Walsh Bay arts precinct given development to proceed after backing from locals

2nd August 2017 - Bangarra relocates to temporary Barangaroo home

5th April 2017 - NSW Government commits more funds for Walsh Bay arts precinct transformation

22nd March 2016 - NSW Government appoints architect for Walsh Bay arts precinct

22nd May 2015 - Walsh Bay Arts Precinct concept gets green light


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