ANOTHER piece of Parramatta heritage has become off-limits for arts and culture.
O-vation Group creative arts director Andrew Quah jumped at the opportunity when he heard the 142-year-old Mays Hill Gatehouse was up for lease following a restoration by Parramatta Park Trust.
The Trust hoped at the time the successful tender would attract more people to the unused section of the park. It held site tours of the Victorian cottage, which were booked out.
Mr Quah lodged what he described as a “compelling submission” for the Western Sydney Creative Centre, a consortium of arts and culture professionals to use the building as an office and meeting space and host musical and arts events in that part of Parramatta Park.
“It is our intention to establish the space as a facility that invites the public to engage with our membership,” the submission states.
Mr Quah was devastated when he found out last week the submission was rejected.
“It was the right space for what we wanted to do,” he said.
“What this decision says to me is that they don’t want the public using this space. The community should be rightfully outraged.”
His submission had the written support of state MPs Geoff Lee and Julia Finn.
Mr Lee added: “Having a not-for-profit ‘arts incubator’ that assists creative arts in western Sydney could be of value to the area.”
Mr Quah believe his submission was overlooked for commercial reasons.
“My fear is that it will be put in private hands and become somebody’s office, which would be a waste,” he said.
“What’s the point of restoring these facilities if they’re going to turn them into private offices? We were able to pay most of the rent.
“I can’t take my proposal to a commercial leaser.”
The four tender submissions received were accessed by an independent assessment panel.
According to the Trust’s director Suellen Fitzgerald, the site could not meet the Western Sydney Creative Centre’s requirements due to its proposed use, limited on-site parking and vehicle access constraints from the Great Western Highway.
“The proposal from Western Sydney Creative Centre was only for a short lease period as an interim measure before they could find a permanent home elsewhere in Parramatta,” she said.
“The state government is proposing an arts precinct in Parramatta.
“The Trust will work with Arts NSW to support the Western Sydney Creative Centre’s search for a permanent home within the future arts precinct.”
She said tenancy negotiations had yet to be finalised. Mr Quah hopes to launch a Save the Gatehouse campaign to ensure it remains in public ownership in the hope a successful private tender will rethink its decision.
“We need to protect what we have and the public want to be part of it,” he said.
Originally published in the Parramatta Holroyd Sun – http://www.parramattasun.com.au/story/3307213/exclusive-arts-access-denied-again/