National Art School to get $18 million upgrade

Published: 14 Dec 2020

Released by: Minister of State

The National Art School will soon benefit from over $18 million in upgrades, critical maintenance and stonework remediation to reinvigorate the unique heritage site for future generations and cement its reputation as a world-renowned vibrant arts and education precinct.

Part of the NSW Government’s program of works designed to revitalise the state’s arts and cultural venues and kickstart economic recovery, the National Art School will undergo extensive works across the whole site, including upgrades to the Cell Block Theatre and remediation work to restore life to the 200-year-old sandstone walls.

Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin said the National Art School is a vital arts and education precinct and the works are essential to help maintain the site for current and future students. 
“Housed in the old Darlinghurst Gaol, the National Art School has a rich and layered past which should not only be celebrated but conserved for generations of Australian artists to come. 

“I am delighted to announce the NSW Government’s commitment of over $18 million for critical maintenance and upgrades to make the site safer and more accessible for us all.

“The works are extensive and will cover the whole site. The sandstone walls on Forbes Street and Darlinghurst Street will be remediated, walkways will be improved, and the Cell Block Theatre will be upgraded to enable it to be used by more members of the public as an extraordinary performance venue.

“Our focus is on preserving the heritage significance of the site for the students of the future so the National Art School can continue to nurture and create opportunities for the next generation of artists,” said Mr Harwin. 

Steven Alderton, National Art School CEO and Director said “This announcement is a fantastic and uplifting way to end this difficult year, and to celebrate the National Art School’s upcoming anniversaries. Our historic Darlinghurst Gaol site is one of the most important in Sydney and this funding allows us to undertake crucial restoration and repair work, as well as expand our public engagement with the new museum and gallery and upgraded Cell Block Theatre. 

“Enormous thanks to the NSW Government for its ongoing support which enables the school to deliver the best fine art education in Australia, teaching and nurturing our most talented emerging artists,” Mr Alderton said.

This project is supported through the NSW Government’s $120 million in the state budget to improve the accessibility, sustainability and functionality of the state’s arts and cultural venues, and co-funding secured from the Minister’s Stoneworks Program.

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