18 July, 2016 16:45
CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | CONTACT
The uncomfortably youthful and open-minded students from the National Art School have today vowed to keep attempting to learn, despite the fact that their teachers are gradually being replaced by state-sanctioned pokie machines – as the NSW State Government decides what to do with some perfectly good real estate not too far from the now defunct Kings Cross strip.
Fairfax Media revealed last month that ownership of the National Art School’s historic inner-city Sydney site had been transferred from the NSW Department of Education to Property NSW.
Head of the school, Michael Snelling confirmed on Monday that he was leaving the school in September – and that the future of the 100-year-old arts college was involved in merger talks with Sydney’s two other art schools, was in the hands of the NSW government.
Speaking to media today, NSW Premier Mike Baird, said that although it “may seem suspicious” that the head of this institution resigned within days of the news that the suspiciously not-heritage-listed sandstone site was ‘possibly’ up for sale – he assured voters that it was something that they won’t have to worry about until after the next state election.
“Look, I know it seems a bit suss, especially given the fact that we announced plans to merge two entire – and completely separate – University art faculties just last month… but I can guarantee you that this is not something you will have to worry about for a while,”
The transfer of the National Art School campus follows news last month that the University of Sydney will shut down its Sydney College of the Arts campus at Callan Park, Balmain, and transfer students to the University of NSW, under a merger agreement.
Baird’s planned amalgamations of every art school in NSW has resulted in accusations that the State Government has pulled another ‘dishlicker’ move – by shutting down an entire community that people in the suburbs don’t care about.
However, the Premier says all the appropriate protocol has been taken to insure that this doesn’t upset too many people.
“We’ll put this decision to review and not talk about it until you guys stop talking about it” he said.
“In the meanwhile – we are going to chuck a few pokie machines in there and see how we go,”
National Art School student, Mary Fowler (19) says that it will be quite inconvenient to live in a five million person city that has only one art school – but has vowed to keep painting as much as she can until it reaches that point.
“I knew they would come for NAS the moment the lock-out laws came in. After Kings Cross died, we became the last young people in this area…”
“…and I realise that our flared jeans offend some of the noveau-rich around here. It’s no surprise that Mr Baird would want us to move back to our six-person sharehouses in Newtown to teach ourselves,”
This news comes not even a month after Premier Baird announced that state funding for the Art Gallery Of NSW’s much needed renovations was to be halved, with shopping chain Westfield vowing to put forward the remaining $200 million needed – under the provision that the Indigenous Art wing was replaced with a David Jones outlet.
Ms Fowler says that while the recent cuts to art on both a state and federal level are more evident than ever, her peers have vowed to keep painting – even if they are surrounded by problem gamblers.
“Look, we are more than happy to work alongside other disenfranchised people – just leave us the facilities,”
“But I understand that this is an issue for NSW Property – and that Mr Baird can’t be seen to interfere with something that he has already signed off on,”
Identifying state-owned property for sale is one of the key functions of Property NSW.
It has previously overseen the sale of other historic Sydney sandstone buildings, including the Department of Education and Department of Lands buildings in Bridge Street in the CBD.
Singapore-based Pontiac Land Group won a competitive tender for a 99-year lease of the buildings for $35 million. It plans to turn them into a luxury 240-room hotel – with over an acre of pokie machines in the ground floor.