The NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts, Troy Grant, unveiled this week working designs for the largest program of upgrades to the Sydney Opera House since it opened.
The Renewal projects will open more of the Opera House to the public, improve access and ensure it meets the needs and expectations of audiences, artists and the 8.2 million people who visit each year.
The announced investment will be of $ 202 million, provided by the Cultural Infrastructure Fund. The renewals plans include Upgrade of the acoustics of the largest internal performance space, a sensible issue for all the auditoriums of the building since the opening of the House, in 1973. It also expects to improve the accessibility, efficiency and flexibility of this space, as well as transform office space into a new Creative Learning Center (for children and families), create a welcoming car-free entrance under the Monumental Steps and build a Function Centre with spectacular view of the harbor.
NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said the plans will ensure the Opera House is able to meet the increasing popularity of Australia’s leading tourist destination and busiest performing arts centre. “The Sydney Opera House is the symbol of modern Australia. It is our responsibility as custodians of this extraordinary place to maintain and renew it for all Australians”, Mr Grant said. “That’s why we are investing more than $200 million in these wonderful projects, which represent the biggest upgrade to the Opera House since it opened 43 years ago.”
The largest of the four NSW Government-funded projects, the Concert Hall upgrade is expected to take 18 months to complete. Construction will begin in mid-2019 and the hall will reopen with the SSO’s 2021 season. In addition to the four projects revealed in this week’s designs, the first stage of Renewal also includes a $45 million self-funded project to replace the ‘engine’ in the Opera House’s second-largest internal performance space, the Joan Sutherland Theatre (JST). Announced in June 2015, the Theatre Machinery Project will improve the safety and reliability of the JST, which will close from May to December next year, during construction. The Renewal works will be staged so that audiences and visitors can continue to enjoy world-class experiences at the Opera House while these critical upgrades are completed. When the Joan Sutherland Theatre closes for seven months in 2017, the Opera House’s five other performance stages, its food and beverage outlets, tours and onsite facilities will remain open and fully operational. This same will be the case during the Concert Hall closure.