City’s heritage into focus

PERTH’S architectural heritage received a major boost this week with the announcement of two initiatives designed to retain the city’s heritage among the infrastructure development currently under way. A heritage appeal launched by the City of Perth and the National Trust of Australia (WA), and a $1 million State Government grant to refurbish a city theatre, is aimed at the preservation of the city’s architectural heritage and character. In a national first, the City of Perth is leading a tax-deductible appeal to raise $5 million over five years from private individuals, corporate partners and grant-making bodies, to conserve places of cultural heritage located within the city. The city council has kick-started the appeal with a $300,000 donation. To be administered by an eight-person board with expertise in heritage, property, law, architecture and business, the City of Perth Heritage Appeal is chaired by former GRD Minproc chief executive, Dario Amara. The board also consists of industry figures such as former chief legal counsel of Wesfarmers, Francis Landels, Property Council president Russell Gibbs, historian and president of the National Trust (WA) Jenny Gregory, and Tony Ednie-Brown, who has 40 years’ experience in architecture, planning, landscaping and urban design. Mr Amara said the appeal had been in the planning stages for three years, bringing together a board in consultation with its patron, outgoing Governor John Sanderson, and vice-patron, Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass. “As an engineer, we are constantly concerned with building projects for the future, and this was a role I gladly took on to preserve some of the history of the city,” Mr Amara said. While the “fairly inaugural” board still has some housekeeping to do in terms of setting up administration, Mr Amara said a total of nine grants had already been made to city property owners. Dr Nattrass highlighted the revitalisation of the historic ‘west end’ of Perth as an area that has provided substantial benefits to the economic, cultural and social vitality of the city. “King Street is now a thriving commercial and social hub,” he said. Dr Nattrass said the appeal was the first heritage program in Australia to raise funds for an entire area, with typical appeal programs usually focused on a specific building. Also this week the State Government announced a grant to refurbish Perth theatre The Blue Room. Improved access, audience comfort and a new box office will be among the refurbishments, with work scheduled to begin immediately. Culture and Arts Minister Sheila McHale said the theatrical experience of patrons would be enhanced by the renovations, while retaining the building’s heritage architecture and character. The minister said the refurbishments were part of a Department of Culture and the Arts’ Performing Arts Venues masterplan, aimed at developing a more vibrant and engaging CBD through the revitalisation of performing arts facilities. Bibbulmun Team Challenge THE Bibbulmun Track Foundation is recruiting teams of four to compete in the fourth annual Mountain Designs Bibbulmun Team Challenge, to take place between October 6 and November 6 this year. Over the month, 16 teams will compete in one of four heats incorporating ‘bushwalking, team building and mind-bending’ activities along the Bibbulmun Track. Each four-day heat covers approximately 60km. Participants camp out and bushwalk with full backpacks for 15-20 kilometres per day. All proceeds from the event go towards the on-going sustainability of the track itself. Teams interested in registering the event can witness last year’s competitors being put through their paces at two city launches on June 21 at Central Park Plaza and on June 24 in the Murray Street Mall, both starting from 12pm. For more information contact Steve Sertis at the Bibbulmun Track Foundation on 9481 0551.

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