In the wake of the City of Sydney’s announcement that the Eternity Playhouse project in Darlinghurst is nearing halfway point, the City is being urged to retain the Reg Murphy Centre in Potts Point.
The Darlinghurst Theatre Company, currently housed in the Reg Murphy Centre, will relocate to the Eternity Playhouse early next year. The situation has reignited concerns the City will sell off the Reg Murphy Centre once the theatre company vacates.
Linda Scott, ALP candidate for the City of Sydney in the upcoming local government elections, noted the City was on record as wanting to sell the Centre. “The City flagged selling the Reg Murphy Centre in 2007-2008, only relenting after significant pressure from local residents,” said Ms Scott.
“My concern is that Council has not given adequate assurances about the venue’s future.”
Ms Scott said in addition to its role for theatrical productions, the venue played an important role as a centre for senior citizens, childcare, public meetings and talks.
Andrew Woodhouse, President of the Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Conservation Society expressed similar sentiments.
“City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone is on record as wanting to sell the Centre to raise money for the City,” said Mr Woodhouse.
“Clover Moore put that idea on the backburner when she saw how unpopular it was, but the fact remains Council hasn’t revealed its intentions for the Reg Murphy Centre once Darlinghurst Theatre vacates.
“They’re being very cagey. My concern is that after the election, they’ll again try to sell it.”
Mr Woodhouse said selling the “prime real estate” to developers carried “a real risk” high rise apartments would be erected on the site, blocking the views of local residents.
City of Sydney Greens Councillor, Chris Harris slammed the idea of any future move to sell the site.
“It would be short-sighted and stupid,” said Mr Harris, who led the 2008 campaign to save the Centre.
“Any sale would deliver a short-term gain to the City at the expense of long-term community benefit.”
The City of Sydney sought to allay fears that selling the Reg Murphy Centre was back on the agenda, advising that the City would soon seek expressions of interest from cultural organisations interested in utilising the space.
“The City has no plans to sell this valuable community space,” said a City spokesperson.
“Next month, expressions of interest will be sought from theatre companies and producers to take up residence at the Reg Murphy Centre once the Darlinghurst Theatre Company settles into its new quarters at the Eternity Playhouse.
“The City consulted with the performing arts sector and audiences … the research found there was demand for small, intimate spaces that cater to independent artists, musical theatre and cabaret, talks and their audiences.”