At my suggestion the NSW Greens will be making a submission to the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) urging them to give serious consideration to setting up an Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Barangaroo. I will be writing this submission on behalf of the Greens in conjunction with state MP Ian Cohen. In the submission we will be stressing a number of important points:
More than just an art gallery
Recent discussion around Barangaroo has focused on the idea of an Aboriginal Art Gallery, but we need more than just this. In addition to a comprehensive collection of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal art there should be a museum dedicated to Aboriginal culture and history as well as a performance space and a resource centre were everyone from students to staff of government departments can come to get the best information available. Barangaroo is being touted as a world class precinct that will serve as a “celebration of Australia” and such a place deserves a world class venue for the appreciation and interpretation of Aboriginal culture past and present.
In the words of renowned Aboriginal artist Gordon Syron, the centre will be “just another white man’s fantasy if not managed and run by Aboriginal people”. It is essential that whatever management structure is set up to run the Cultural Centre Aboriginal people with a background in arts and culture who are able to consult with and speak for the broader Aboriginal community must have a final say in what goes on.
Transparent decision making process
The planning for what community facilities are built at Barangaroo must be carried out in such a way that the community is empowered to have genuine input into the entire process. There should be an openly advertised process by which the public may make submissions to the BDA on what facilities will be located at the site. The criteria on which submissions will be judged should be made publically available. The selections should be made by an independent panel made up of representatives from local resident groups, the tourism and recreation industries, planners, City of Sydney Council and members of the Aboriginal community.
Decisions on what exactly goes into the cultural centre must also be made in a similarly transparent manner with as much public input as possible. The public should be able to make submissions on what projects are to be housed at the cultural centre and have an understanding on how these submissions will be assessed and the reasons why chosen projects are successful.
While I will be making a submission on behalf of the Greens I would urge everyone else to also make submissions to the BDA about the value of a comprehensive Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the site. Submissions can be sent to the CEO of the BDA John Tabart – firstname.lastname@example.org