High powered summit offers constructive way forward

SMH article 16Feb16 PowerhouseMEDIA RELEASE – February 15, 2016
Commenting after Monday’s successful and informative summit which called for the Powerhouse Museum to remain in Ultimo, the summit host Jamie Parker MP said he was optimistic the government will genuinely consider the recommendations.

“Around the table was a  formidable group of eminent museum professionals, academics, small business owners and community representatives, and there was enormous goodwill and enthusiasm for working with the government,” said Jamie Parker, Member for Balmain.

Read Sydney Morning Herald report on Jamie's summit ->

“I was delighted – but not surprised considering the overwhelming opposition that has come from across Sydney since this proposal was announced a year ago – that we quickly reached a consensus position about delivering a world-class museum in Parramatta, as well as safeguarding the Powerhouse at its current site.

“The summit first and foremost called on the government to reverse any decision to relocate the museum from its iconic and purpose-built site in Ultimo.

“The proposal to sell the Powerhouse building for residential apartments emerged from Infrastructure NSW where the museum was simply another piece of public property to be privatised.

“Whilst a big-ticket real estate deal is stereotypical for Sydney, it is not the best way to determine long-term cultural infrastructure policy.

“Even if the sale of the Powerhouse site generates up to $200 million, we know that building a world-class institution in Western Sydney and relocating the extensive Powerhouse collection of over 500,000 items currently on display and in storage will cost in excess of half a billion dollars.

“This is a breathtaking shortfall which will undeniably diminish the scale and quality of exhibition space for a relocated Powerhouse Museum.

“Significantly, there was also no commitment to recurrent funding. The museum is already dealing with a dramatic decrease in staffing from 400 since opening at the current site in 1988 to around 200 today. You cannot keep taking resources away and expect improved results.

“The summit, which included representatives from the Parramatta area, was 100 percent behind a new, locally distinctive, world-class museum in Parramatta,” said Mr Parker.

An open letter co-signed by the summit participants will be sent to Premier Baird this week. A parliamentary debate initiated by the tabling of a petition from over 10,000 people opposing the Government’s Powerhouse proposal will held at 4:30pm Thursday 25 February 2016.

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Further comment from Jamie Parker: 0413581603 (Lesa de Leau)

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