National Body Advocates Old Kings School Hub
The Western Sydney community is having its long cherished hopes for a cultural precinct dashed by the Catholic Church, which is disputing who should have ownership of the now disused old Kings School on the riverfront near Parramatta Park, close to Parramatta Riverside Theatres.
Tamara Winikoff, Executive Director of the peak body for the Australian visual arts sector, the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) said today, “The arts community of Western Sydney is feeling betrayed by the NSW Premier.”
“For some years the neglected old Kings School site has been promised to be rejuvenated as a much needed arts and cultural facility. Now, just before an election, the Premier seems to be bowing to pressure from the powerful Catholic Church to allow this valuable community asset to be handed over for private use,” Winikoff said.
Winikoff today met the NSW Arts Minister,Virgina Judge and conveyed the aspirations and anxieties of the visual arts community, receiving a very sympathetic hearing. Judge affirmed her solid support for the Kings School to be kept in public ownership for cultural purposes. It seems that views within the NSW Labor Party are at odds over this matter.
Winikoff continued, “There are at least three reasons that giving way to the demands of the Catholic Church would be the wrong decision:
- recognised as a highly desirable enlivening element in all major cities around the world, this is a unique opportunity to create a dynamic cultural precinct by locating a contemporary visual arts centre to complement the closely located Riverside Theatres; - there is no major public art gallery and visual arts resource facility in Sydney’s population centre of gravity; - this site has been promised to the community for this essential public purpose and should not go be gifted to the Catholic Church for their private purposes.”
These views were affirmed at an emergency meeting held by angry members of the community today, who have only recently found out through the media. NAVA’s Strategy and Projects Manager addressed the group vowing to assist them to have their claims recognised. A rally will be held next Wednesday at 10.00am on the Kings School site.
For comment contact Tamara Winikoff on ph: 02 9368 1900