17/05/2022 - 08:00

PICA, Blue Room welcome cultural centre revitalisation

17/05/2022 - 08:00

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Business News understands the redevelopment is due to be completed by late 2024.

PICA, Blue Room welcome cultural centre revitalisation
An artist's impression of the precinct. Photo: Perth Cultural Centre Masterplan Report

Arts organisations in the Perth Cultural Centre have embraced extra funding to make the ‘desolate’ area more inviting.

In last week’s budget, the state government committed a further $15 million to revitalise the Perth Cultural Centre.

The extra money is on top of a $10 million state government contribution and $10 million from the federal government as part of the $1.7 billion Perth City Deal.

The first images of the planned transformation and the master plan were released publicly over the weekend, designed by architects Taylor Robinson Chaney Broderick.

Plans included demolishing the amphitheatre and replacing it with a graded streetscape lined with trees.

The focal point of the area will be a new shady central space.

On the eastern side, the Art Gallery of WA’s car park will be turned into a children’s play area.

While the state government said it could not specify starting and completion dates due to widespread pressure on the construction sector, Business News understands work is due to start in mid-2023 and finish in late 2024.

The Blue Room Theatre executive director Katt Osborne said the opening of the James Street cul de sac would help the area to become more welcoming and increase foot traffic.

Ms Osborne said the area had been ‘desolate’ since the Omicron cases started rising at the beginning of the year.

“In the sense that there is not a lot of people around, there’s a lot less foot traffic with less people using public transport and the train station,” Ms Osborne told Business News.

Ms Osborne said she was hoping the revitalisation would make the area a destination for people to come to and experience the centre’s artistic offerings.

“I think we are all in agreeance that there are so many fantastic things to do in the Perth Cultural Centre in terms of coming into the institutions but getting the area to be more inviting and welcoming and a place where people are happy to come and hang out is really important and that will overall increase engagement with the great work we are doing inside our buildings,” Ms Osborne told Business News.

Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts chair Mark Clapham said the redevelopment would make the area a lot more user friendly.

“At the moment it is either very windy and it is very hot and it is very rainy and it’s not really a pleasant place to be walking around,” Mr Clapham told Business News.

“I think it will be addressing a number of those issues.

“More foot traffic will increase visitation; it will make it a much more pleasant precinct in which to stay and wander and engage with the other institutions.”

The plan includes space for PICA, the State Library of Western Australia and the Art Gallery of WA to expand.

Mr Clapham said the current heritage buildings in the precinct were not fit-for-purpose and required more investment, but PICA had not cemented how or when it would renovate its premises.

“This first stage of the master plan does allow for a future expansion of our gallery,” Mr Clapham said.

“Which direction that actually takes or what form that takes is yet to be decided.

“We actually haven’t got a business case up at this time so it is an aspirational allocation of land for us to do something.

“We are yet to lock in any design or approval to go ahead with those works.”

The centre has needed attention for many years.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries’ Perth Cultural Centre Masterplan Report said the area had sat as a ‘failed public realm’ for three decades.

In late 2019, the Perth Cultural Centre Taskforce was established to guide the overall direction of the precinct.

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