Powerbroker pushes to save two art deco theaters

Asked if his vote depended on the two theaters being saved, Greenwich said: “The government knows that investment in the arts is very important to everyone.”

Western Sydney business leader David Borger said it would be a “crime” if the Metro Theater was acquired and not the Roxy.

Parramatta’s mayor said Donna Davis said, “There is nothing our city wants more than to see the beautiful Roxy Theater preserved and revived. He is a great asset to our city.”

Last Monday, the council endorsed conceptual plans for a renovation of the Riverside Theatres, opened as a Bicentennial project.

Plans call for a new lyric theater, a new drama theater and studio, and a refurbished cinema and theater to service an expected population explosion stemming from new planning controls that allow skyscrapers up to 69 stories for mixed-use residential buildings and 52 stories for commercial buildings. Offices in expanded CBD.

Western Sydney does not have a major theater capable of staging blockbuster musicals, ballets or grand operas, with the major theaters clustered around Sydney’s financial district.

The Council’s plans effectively double the size of the Council-owned and operated performing arts center located diagonally across the river from the site of the new Parramatta power station.

The Riverside Theaters now include three venues, the largest of which seats 761 and is not large enough to host large productions.

Davis said that as the “inner west of the west”, Parramatta was large enough to house a revitalized Roxy and a lyric theater, both pieces of critical arts infrastructure that needed government support.

Davis said his goal was to secure the additional funding needed to provide the arts and cultural infrastructure this city and Western Sydney needed.

Charging

“There is no better time to advocate for this funding than the week the planning minister has released the CBD planning proposal outlining growth, employment opportunities and housing in the CBD. Everything goes together.

“If you are going to build that unique city, we need those arts and cultural institutions, as well as the sports facilities, parks and heritage to attract people to the city.”

The Parramatta City Council will now proceed with a detailed business case for the Riverside redevelopment. The Council will use $100 million it made from the proceeds of the Powerhouse land sale, but will likely need to find a gap of up to $40 million or so for the redevelopment to take place.

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