Art Gallery of NSW expansion leads Sydney’s cultural renaissance

The planned expansion of the Art Gallery of New South Wales will further establish Sydney as a global arts hub and deliver a significant cultural benefit and economic dividend for NSW.

Tourism & Transport Forum Chief Executive, Margy Osmond, welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement today it will commit $244 million towards the project to ensure the Sydney Modern Project will be complete in time for the 150th anniversary of the Gallery’s founding in 2021.

“One of the defining characteristics of any truly great and modern city is that it places a strong value on arts and culture,” Ms Osmond said.

“Increasingly, visitors to Australia are looking to engage in cultural tourism and the proportion of international visitors who participate in cultural and heritage activities has increased significantly across many key visitor markets, especially China, the US and UK.

“International cultural visitors, on average, stay two nights longer and spend almost $400 more per visitor in NSW than the average international tourist. It is vital that we have the cultural infrastructure in place to take full advantage of this lucrative market.

“TTF has long recognised the need for cultural investment in our capital cities and has been a vocal advocate of the Sydney Modern project because a truly world-class art gallery is critical to increasing the 12 million cultural and heritage visitors NSW receives each year.

“The AGNSW has been constrained by size and funding issues, and without this commitment by the NSW Government it would continue to struggle to compete against the growth of galleries both here in Australia and across the world.

“For example, in 2007, the AGNSW was the most visited art museum in Australia and the 28th most visited in the world. However, a sustained period of underinvestment and expansion of peer art museums has seen a decline in the Gallery’s visitation, to fourth domestically and out of the top 50 globally.

“With the expansion, the AGNSW will aim to increase visitation from an average of 1.2 million visitors per year to over 2 million per year and put it back on top in Australia.”

Ms Osmond said that, through the Art Gallery expansion, the Sydney Theatre Company’s $60 million Wharf Renewal Project and the incredible growth of cultural festivals such as Vivid, Sydney is emerging as an international arts and culture capital.

“There is no doubt Sydney is now experiencing a cultural renaissance that will benefit our visitor economy for many years to come,” Ms Osmond said.