Artspace welcomed the NSW Government's commitment of over $5 million that will see The Gunnery in Woolloomooloo – Artspace's home since 1993 – transformed into a state-of-the-art facility with expanded exhibition spaces, increased artist-in-residence studios and a greater connection to the local neighbourhood and Sydney Harbour Foreshore.
This significant investment in The Gunnery will ensure the legacy of the landmark building as the destination for visual arts in NSW and highlights the important role of the arts in fuelling NSW's cultural and economic recovery following the impact of COVID-19.
NSW Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin said the heritage building is an important hub for artists and the broader community, with the upgrade set to deliver a contemporary, more accessible centre for generations to come: "Arts and culture continues to be a source of inspiration and hope, and the key to our social and economic recovery from the impact of the pandemic. I am delighted to announce the NSW Government's commitment of over $5 million to this cultural infrastructure project, that will deliver upgraded artist studios, adaptable multi-use spaces, and expanded galleries, as part of a program of work that will support artistic excellence and meet the needs of the community.
"For almost thirty years, Artspace has called The Gunnery home, playing a significant role in transforming the site to the premier cultural destination it is today. Through Artspace, The Gunnery will continue to be an inclusive place of gathering for communities anchored in Woolloomooloo," Mr Harwin said.
Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director at Artspace said "Artspace is extremely grateful for the NSW Government's support and recognition of the critical role that art plays in imagining new futures. This timely support will see the transformation of Artspace in The Gunnery into a more agile and resilient 21st century centre for innovation in contemporary art through expanded exhibitions, enhanced spaces for learning and education, digital connectivity, commissioning and studio practice."
The transformation of The Gunnery will feature these key elements:
• Reorientation of the gallery entrance to Forbes Street plaza to provide greater connection with the neighbourhood and harbour foreshore and create a cultural corridor and sightline with Art Gallery of NSW/Sydney Modern Project and the Domain parklands;
• Expanded exhibition space on the ground floor;
• The first floor will be upgraded into an education, outreach, digital broadcast, performance, production and public program space;
• Increasing the number of artist studios offered rent-free to NSW-based artists from 7 to 10;
• Create equity access for audiences across all levels;
• A new commercial kitchen on first floor and upgraded electrical and fire services; and
• Essential building upgrade works including waterproofing, electrical and security systems.
The early 20th Century federation warehouse building is an important heritage listed site, which through its history has been a bulk store for the Sydney Morning Herald and a World War II gunnery instructional centre from which the building derived its name. In the 1970s, it became a famed artist squat, leading to its transformation as an artistic hub.
This project will also allow Artspace to build on their growing strategic partnership with the Art Gallery of NSW, which supports expanded programs across education and outreach, curatorial, digital learning and capacity-building.
Art Gallery of NSW Director Michael Brand said, "I'm delighted our neighbouring colleagues at Artspace will benefit from this significant investment in the arts by the NSW Government. This investment will assist in strengthening the existing collaboration the Gallery and Artspace enjoy and we're very much looking forward to expanding this partnership. With the Sydney Modern Project due to open in late 2022, this investment in Artspace and the Gunnery is also timely as it will contribute to the enhancement of Sydney's eastern cultural precinct."
Artspace One-Year Residency alum, Artspace Board Director, and a Board Member, Art Form Advisory Board, Visual Arts Board, Create NSW Khaled Sabsabi added, "The Gunnery redevelopment will see the transformation of Artspace, allowing it to realise its full potential as a holistic arts and creative industries entity. The expansion is an opportunity to heighten the visibility of contemporary art and celebrate its cultural impact, as well as contribute further to our arts ecology and communities. I sincerely welcome and applaud the leadership and vision shown by Minister Harwin and NSW Government in supporting the exciting future for The Gunnery and Artspace."