New Major Arts Landmark, Sydney

In an historic 99 year agreement, the NSW Government has secured Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay as a national and international arts and cultural landmark.

A new 99-year exclusive lease will hand over the historic wharf for arts and cultural uses for performing arts events and companies into the future.

The site will now be re-developed into art space for Australian and international artists, arts companies and performing arts venues – securing arts investment for NSW.

With NSW home to 37 per cent of the nation’s creative workforce – the new precinct can open up new job opportunities.

In 2007-08, the creative industries generated an estimated $31.1 billion for the Australian economy.

Cate Blanchett today joined Premier Kristina Keneally and Minister for the Arts, Virginia Judge, to make the announcement at Pier 2/3.

“This lease demonstrates the NSW Labor Government’s commitment to the arts,” Ms Keneally said.

“It secures Walsh Bay’s historic Pier 2/3 for the arts into the future, and maintains its international significance for generations to come.

“It consolidates a new cultural precinct stretching from the Opera House to the Sydney Theatre and the new Pier 2/3 – forming a vibrant arts precinct.

“This will be the new home for our major, innovative Australian companies and a vital venue for the wider arts community.”

Future use of the site will be determined by an expert panel – who will consult with the arts sector. It will also look at potential private sector investment.

Under the new agreement:
• Communities NSW – which funds Arts programs – will sign a new 99-year lease for the property with NSW Maritime – fulfilling a long-standing commitment to use the space for cultural purposes;
• A new cultural and arts precinct will be completed, stretching from the Sydney Opera House to Wharf 4/5, the new Pier 2/3 and onto the new Barangaroo development;
• An expert panel will be established to oversee project development. It will be chaired by the Director-General of Communities NSW, Carol Mills;
• The Pier 2/3 redevelopment will be undertaken in consultation with key stakeholders and the local community;
• The NSW Government will seek expressions of interest from leading arts organisations to occupy Pier 2/3 from August this year, and then take expressions of interest from the private sector for complementary use of the balance of the space;
• At the conclusion of the panel process, Communities NSW will recommend a list of arts and private sector tenants and users for the Pier.

Minister for the Arts, Virginia Judge, said the new project would give our arts organisations the certainty they need to grow and build their space and audiences.

“The redevelopment of Pier 2/3 will extend the vibrant waterside arts, tourism, residential and business precinct, from the Sydney Opera House right through to the future Barangaroo development,” she said.

“The new lease will mean work can now proceed on creating a new home for arts organisations at Pier 2/3 and its continued use for a range of cultural events.

“Investing in the creative industries is a key part of the Government’s strategy to stimulate the economy and support dynamic, diverse communities,” Ms Judge said.

“Pier 2/3 is already being used by the Sydney Writers’ Festival and the Biennale of Sydney and this will ensure the Pier remains a permanent home for arts organisations, festivals and the artistic community.”

Other major performing arts companies already based in Walsh Bay include Bangarra Dance Theatre and Sydney Dance Company.

The Sydney Theatre Company, based at The Wharf at Pier 4/5, welcomed the announcement describing it as a great development for the arts in our city.

“We are delighted to see this long-term commitment to the vibrant artistic life of Sydney,” SydneyTheatre Company Co-Artistic Director Cate Blanchett said.

“Once Pier 2/3 is brought to life by cultural activity, the cultural ribbon stretching from Sydney Opera House to the Rocks through Walsh Bay to Barangaroo will be one of the most exciting arts districts in the world – a great asset for the people of Sydney and NSW.

“We look forward to welcoming new neighbours just across the water from Sydney Theatre Company, to build an even greater centre of creativity in Walsh Bay.”

Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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