NSW: Opera House boss says massive refurbishment is neededBy Andrew Drummond
21 Mar 2009 1:07 PM
SYDNEY, March 21 AAP - The head of the Sydney Opera House says a massive refurbishment is needed so the iconic building can maintain its international reputation.
NSW Premier Nathan Rees says his government is considering financing the project, estimated to cost up to $1 billion, on a shared basis with the commonwealth.
"I am absolutely delighted today to hear that the premier is seriously considering the funding for the opera theatre renewal project," Opera House chief executive Richard Evans told reporters on Saturday.
"The Opera House is now 35 years old. There are parts of the building which are in decline and it's really, really important that this critical piece of cultural and tourism infrastructure is maintained for the next generation."
Mr Evans said the Opera House injected more than $300 million a year into the national economy, staging some 1,700 performances and attracting 7.5 million tourists annually.
He estimated the project, to run over seven years, would cost about $900 million but the World Heritage listed building would not undergo any visible exterior changes.
"A lot of the changes are going to upgrade the health and safety for the workers of the building but the public will notice the completely revitalised box office area and the opera theatre itself will be completely transformed," he said.
"There will be many more seats, a very rich and colourful interior, the acoustics of the hall will be of a standard that's befitting the rest of the building."
In a massive engineering feat, part of the plan will see the floor of the opera theatre lowered by 18 metres.
Despite the current financial climate, Mr Evans said it was a good time for the project, which would generate an estimated 3,000 jobs, to be approved.
"Everyone who comes here (to the Opera House) comes because of the international reputation of this building," Mr Evans said.
"If we let the international reputation of this building decline it would be a great blight on the Australian cultural landscape and would show that we didn't really have an ability to look after one of the most famous buildings in the world."
Mr Evans said he would wait until the state government gave its support to the project before releasing official plans.