Bondi Pavilion. Photo: Vanessa Lim

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BY VANESSA LIM

The new Waverley Council has submitted plans to restore the Bondi Pavilion upgrade culture and art facilities important to locals. The new council’s $26.7 million dollar plan comes after the old council’s controversial $38 million dollar plans for Bondi Pavilion were scrapped.

Mayor of Waverley Council John Wakefield commented that they were engaged with Tonkin Zulaiker Greer architects to design the Bondi Pavilion Restoration and Conservation project. Mayor John Wakefield said, “The Bondi Pavilion is an important heritage building. It has a significant place in the Waverley community, but also is the crown on the international icon that is Bondi Beach. This project will restore and retain the Pavilion for the community and for visitors for generations to come.”

A source of inspiration

Katie McMurray, a Bondi local and previous staff member of the Bondi Pavilion, agreed on the importance of retaining the Pavilion, not just for restoration’s sake, but as a source of inspiration for the community.

She said, “It doesn’t just maintain arts and culture. It inspires and facilitates this, which is a really important thing for the community.

“There’s an equity in accessibility that the pavilion has historically offered. It’s not an elite art space, it’s a space that allows emerging artists to show their work.”

Eliane Morel, from Friends of Bondi Pavilion (FOBP), who successfully campaigned to halt the plans of the old council, also emphasised the necessity for Waverley Council to continue supporting local artists.

She said, “It’s really important for council to put funds towards not just the bricks and mortar of the Pavilion, but towards cultivating artists, musicians, performers and so on within our community.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the council’s vision of what they’re going to do to reinstate and inspire new programs. That means to restore not only the building itself, but also give their support for what can happen in there. I think that may have been lost for some time,” Ms Morel said.

Accessibility for local artists would ensure a more vibrant arts scene at Bondi.

“We’re actually losing people who are looking for available spaces to work in or perform their art in, and we should be taking advantage of these people. They shouldn’t be hidden away, the council should be celebrating them.”

It’s not just about supporting local artists though, but ensuring that the whole community can experience culture at Bondi.

Ms Morel said, “We need to get in the ear of the council to help them understand how important it is to give funding for culture and arts in the community. There can be so much emphasis on things like sport that we forget how important the arts are.

“If people could experience culture and arts, their life experience could be so much richer and exciting.”

Past plans made locals like Katie McMurray worry for the future of arts and culture at the Bondi Pavilion.

“When I looked at the proposal a few years ago, the Bondi Pavilion was not regarded as a community cultural centre.”

Eliane Morel said community suspicions that parts of the Bondi Pavilion would be privatised led to the backlash of the original plans.

“We were campaigning to ensure that Bondi Pavilion wasn’t privatised. A part of the old Liberal Council plans included taking the theatre from the top floor and placing large kitchen facilities on the top floor. That appeared to be, though the Liberals never stated as much, an attempt to turn the top floor into an events function centre.”

Lack of transparency on what the old Waverley Council was planning to do with the Bondi Pavilion strengthened suspicions.

Katie McMurray said, “There was no public Development Application (DA) for the old plans before it was at proposal level and it was very broad stroke.

Pavilion Restoration a centrepiece

“The new plans for Bondi Pavilion have about 100 documents in the DA, and they included historical and archaeological information. They include lighting, landscape and sound examinations. A lot of work and consultation has gone into this.”

Mayor Wakefield said the DA for the Pavilion Restoration would be on public exhibition until Thursday 9 May 2019 and would be at the centre of their Bondi Blueprint program. He said, “The Pavilion Restoration is the centrepiece of Council’s Bondi Blueprint program of works, which includes a commitment of $70 million to improving Bondi Beach for everyone to enjoy. Through Bondi Blueprint, the community will see change over the next four years.” These plans have led FOBP to hold an arts festival at the Pavilion in November to celebrate the restoration.

Watch this space!