“The city understands that Barangaroo has been suggested as a possible site for a national centre celebrating and sharing the cultures of the First Peoples of Australia,” a spokesperson for the council said. “The city is supportive of the creation of a national centre.”
Larger than a football field, the Cutaway was created by converting the headland from a flat wharf to parkland and is regarded as the missing link in a waterfront arts precinct that extends from Walsh Bay to the Sydney Opera House.
Poor acoustics have restricted the use of the space for music and concerts with markets, the occasional dinner, one-off photographic shoots for alcohol and car advertisements, and filming among the popular uses, the documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws indicate.
The Cutaway is subject to noise restrictions and maintenance shutdowns with access cut for all of August and the site indirectly impacted by construction of the Sydney Metro Project.
In January, the Cutaway was used mainly by Sydney Festival for storage, and it has been booked in the lead-up to New Year’s Eve celebrations, it’s longest booking run coming from the theatrical skateboard performance troupe, BigHART which took over the site for three months in March.
Commercial bookings particularly dropped off in July, coinciding with the abolition of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and the transfer of its functions to Infrastructure NSW.
Originally it had been hoped the space would host a permanent centre for Indigenous arts and culture and has not been dismissed with cultural planners torn between providing a cultural arts centre close to Indigenous communities in western Sydney, possibly in association with the relocated Powerhouse Museum, and one in the CBD to capture tourists.
Alison Page and Nik Lachajczak’s 10-minute audiovisual installation Wellama, which shows scenes of Eora fisherwomen and camps reference paintings commissioned in the early colony, has been installed at Cutaway.
The Cutaway had hosted a number of exciting arts and cultural events this year, including Sydney Festival events, corporate functions and a three-month performance series and the government continued to consider how best to use the space once the transformation of the Barangaroo precinct is complete, a spokesperson for Infrastructure NSW said.
Earlier this year the Cutaway had been considered a potential site for a 1500-seat lyric theatre but it was ruled out as its ceiling was too low to accommodate a theatrical rigging system that enable stage crew to shift curtains, lights, scenery and stage effects.
Wesley Enoch, chairman of the NSW government’s eight-member Aboriginal arts and culture funding board, could not be contacted for comment.
Linda Morris is an arts and books writer at The Sydney Morning Herald