Govt cuts risk making Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Museum “empty and expensive mausoleums”

Public Service Association

The NSW Government’s plan to slash more than $37 million in funding from the state’s cultural institutions will see huge staff cuts, cripple their ability to deliver world class exhibitions, and leave them empty, the union is warning.

The planned budget cuts come as the the Art Gallery of NSW prepares to open Sydney Modern in 2022, its new contemporary art gallery which would double its exhibition space, and the significant redevelopment of the Australian Museum.

“The Berejiklian government is all about splashing cash on development, but never about investing in delivery,” said Stewart Little, general secretary of the Public Service Association.

“NSW has just invested a huge amount of money in overdue upgrades to these cultural institutions, but now the building works are over the government is cutting them off at the knees, making it impossible to deliver on the potential of these new spaces.

“The Berejiklian government is effectively turning these galleries and museums into empty and expensive mausoleums.”

According to budget forecasts outlined by Arts Minister Don Harwin, the Art Gallery of NSW will reportedly lose $9 million a year, the Australian Museum will lose $13 million, the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences will lose $10 million, and Sydney Living Museums will lose $5 million.

The union says these cuts will be felt by staff, particularly when it came to attracting significant international exhibitions that can deliver millions in tourism and economic growth.

“NSW needs its cultural institutions. We need them to help drive our domestic tourism, and to give those cultural opportunities for us to all enjoy.

“We shouldn’t just rely on the private sector and hospitality to deliver us entertainment – we should invest in our own world leading museums so we can enjoy the rich and diverse offerings we have on our doorstep.”

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