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Walsh Bay arts precinct Master Plan released

14 November 2013
A spectacular waterfront square for public events and performances, including a pedestrian bridge connecting piers and floating pontoons, forms the centrepiece of a proposal for an enhanced Walsh Bay arts precinct, Minister for the Arts, George Souris, announced today.
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Mr Souris said the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct Master Plan aims to more than double the precinct's arts offerings with new and upgraded production, rehearsal, studio and performance venues.

"The master plan released today aims to kick-start public discussion on Walsh Bay’s exciting future before the NSW Government considers funding options for the redevelopment which will include Pier 2/3, Wharf 4/5 and a stunning new waterfront public domain," Mr Souris said.

"With Darling Harbour and Barangaroo rapidly progressing, it is time to focus nearby Walsh Bay. Together they will form the western expansion of the ribbon linking arts and cultural venues around Sydney Harbour and the CBD.

"The master plan vision for the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct will reinforce Sydney as an innovative, creative and culturally sophisticated global city that is open for business.

"It promises to be a visionary and unique development that will become a landmark precinct for Sydney."

Mr Souris said the master plan foreshadows vibrant new public domains at the precinct that are both inclusive and accessible, as well as new commercial opportunities, while preserving the precinct’s unique maritime heritage.

"Walsh Bay has great potential to become a fantastic harbour foreshore precinct where visitors can enjoy festivals, events and public art, or just sit on the steps of the proposed waterfront square and enjoy the local cafes and restaurants," Mr Souris said.

"A proposed bridge between the piers, floating walkway and pontoon would open up the waterfront square for arts and cultural events while allowing the public to enjoy the stunning harbour views.

"Visitors to the revitalised precinct will be able to experience world class performances, watch rehearsals, tour production spaces, explore virtual and digital technologies, or even participate in choirs, workshops and dance classes."

Mr Souris said the NSW Government will assess the plans for the development, including its expected costs, when the next stage of work is complete.

"Arts NSW is developing a business case to finalise costs and ensure the redevelopment is cost effective and financially sustainable," Mr Souris said.

"The business case is an essential step in bidding for government funds to undertake the development. It will also ensure that commercial benefits can be realised and partnership funding models are explored to achieve the best possible outcomes."

Mr Souris said the NSW Government will review the business case later this year. The master plan will be further refined to a concept design, enabling a Concept State Significant Development Application to be submitted in 2014.

"Releasing the master plan now allows public comment to be considered as part of the more detailed work that will follow. Detailed public consultation will take place as part of a Concept State Significant Development Application."

Lucy Turnbull AO, Chair of the Committee for Sydney, welcomed the release of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct Master Plan.

"Walsh Bay is an integral part of the renewal of the entire Sydney Harbour foreshore from Darling Harbour through Barangaroo and on to Circular Quay," Ms Turnbull said.

"The master plan is crucial as global cities compete not just on their office accommodation or transport infrastructure but also on their cultural offering.

"By master planning Walsh Bay, the NSW Government will be making a vital contribution to completing what has been called Sydney's 'arts and cultural ribbon'. This will be a new world class 'C (culture) Front' for Australia’s global city."

The artistic director of Bell Shakespeare, John Bell AO, said: "Walsh Bay has the potential to be a world-class arts precinct, marrying Sydney's beautiful harbour with much-needed arts facilities to create the perfect destination for visitors and arts workers alike. Bell Shakespeare is excited to be part of the project which will provide for the Company a long-awaited permanent home".

Chairman of the Board of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis AM, said: "All of us at the Australian Chamber Orchestra warmly welcome this announcement as it brings us a significant step closer to our long-held dream of a purpose-built home for the Orchestra to provide a platform for our ever-expanding work in the community. We look forward to working closely with the NSW Government and our fellow arts companies to realise a compelling vision for the Walsh Bay precinct".

Completion of Walsh Bay as a world class arts and cultural precinct is a priority of the Government's NSW 2021 strategic plan, the State Infrastructure Strategy and the Visitor Economy Industry Action Plan.

The master plan can be viewed and comments provided via the Arts NSW website or for more information, visit the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct Master Plan Have Your Say consultation page.

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