Powerbroker tries to save two art deco theaters

Asked whether his vote depended on saving the two theaters, Greenwich said: “The government knows that investing in the arts is very important to everyone.”

West Sydney business leader David Borger said it would be a “crime” if Metro Theater were acquired and not Roxy.

Parramatta Lord Mayor said Donna Davis said: “There is nothing our city wants more than to see the beautiful Roxy Theater preserved and brought to life. It is an asset to our city.”

Last Monday, the board endorsed conceptual plans for a renovation of Riverside Theatres, which opened as a Bicentennial project.

Plans call for a new opera house, a new drama theater and studio and cinema, and a refurbished theater to meet an expected population explosion stemming from new planning controls that allow skyscrapers of up to 69 floors for mixed-use residential buildings and 52 floors for commercial office buildings in an expanded CBD.

Western Sydney does not have a large theater capable of staging blockbuster musicals, ballet or grand opera, with large theaters clustered around the Sydney CBD.

The Council’s plans effectively double the size of the council-owned and operated performing arts center, located diagonally across the river from the site of the new Parramatta Powerhouse.

Riverside Theaters now includes three venues, the largest of which seats 761 people and is not large enough to stage major productions.

Davis said that as the “West West Countryside,” Parramatta was large enough to accommodate a revitalized Roxy and a lyrical theater, both pieces of critical arts infrastructure that needed government support.

Davis said his focus was on securing the additional funding needed to provide the arts and cultural infrastructure this city and western Sydney needed.

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“There is no better time to defend this funding than the week the planning minister released the CBD planning proposal, which outlines growth, employment and housing opportunities in the CBD. Everything goes hand in hand.

“If you want to build this unique city, we need to have these arts and cultural institutions as well as sports facilities, parks and heritage to bring people into the city.”

Parramatta Council will now proceed with a detailed business case for the rebuilding of Riverside. The Board will use $100 million it funded from the sale of the Powerhouse land, but would likely need to find a gap of up to $40 million or more to make the rebuild happen.

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