Sydney Film Centre

(1.51pm 17 October, Parliament House Sydney)

Today I wish to speak about an issue important to the cultural life of our city and important to many of my constituents, and that is the need to establish a film centre in Sydney. New South Wales is the confirmed leader of screen production in Australia. Screen production generates $434 million a year and accounts for 66 per cent of all national drama production. More than 1,400 film and television-related businesses are located in New South Wales, employing more than 6,800 people and generating income in the vicinity of $1.3 billion each year. Film remains the most popular and frequently attended art form for Sydneysiders. Yet, unlike Melbourne, which has the Australian Centre for the Moving Image; Canberra, which has the National Film and Sound Archive, and Queensland, which has the Cinematheque at the Gallery of Modern Art, Sydney has no hub for film culture.

There is no permanent year-round institution with an exhibition and curatorial focus on the history of the moving image and its various forms: cinema, television, digital media, the depth and breadth of current international and Australian film production and the representation of innovative trends in screen based media. Sydney deserves its own film centre and a group of distinguished writers, performers and directors approached me recently with a proposal for one. Director, Gillian Armstrong, producer, Jan Chapman, TV presenter Margaret Pomeranz, Australian Film, Television and Radio School Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Levy, Sydney Film Festival's outgoing director, Clare Stewart, and its Chief Executive Officer, Leigh Small, have formed the Sydney Film Centre Committee to work to make the centre a reality.

Their proposal is supported by film industry luminaries Dr George Miller, Cate Blanchett, Bryan Brown, Jane Campion, Toni Collette, Andrew Denton, Robyn Nevin, Guy Pearce, Richard Roxburgh, Geoffrey Rush and Peter Weir as well as organisations including the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, the Motion Pictures Distribution Association of Australia, Australian Independent Distributors Association and Metro Screen. Members can see that there is incredible support for this initiative. A film centre would provide an exciting hub for film and contribute to Sydney's creative culture. It would be a place for staging major film exhibitions and events. The National Film and Sound Archive would have a place in Sydney to screen its extensive archive including its recently acquired film Australia archive. The centre would provide opportunities to screen classic and contemporary film that may otherwise not be seen in Sydney.

Facilities would enable people to watch films on demand using digitised technology. With the expansion of new delivery platforms the idea of film now broadens to embrace television, digital and other multiplatform media from the internet and mobile media to games. The era of fast culture and rapid redundancy makes it essential to have a centre with dedicated facilities that present technologies of the past while embracing the innovative platforms of the future. The centre could be a place where education programs are run for schools as well as other film-related education activities. It would provide a meeting place for film makers and people interested in film—informally and formally—with talks, lectures, film discussion groups and an office space for film-related organisations.

A Sydney Film Centre would be a dynamic focal point for visitors interested in the filmed history of this country, for film lovers wanting to learn about great cinema from the past and the present, and for audiences curious about the possibility of the many forms of the moving image. The centre would have museum status, enabling it to borrow from international organisations such as New York's Museum of Modern Art, Paris's Cinemathequé Francaise and numerous well-established centres in many countries around the world. Speaking on behalf of the Sydney Film Centre Committee, Margaret Pomeranz described the centre as:

An institution that will actively foster smart culture and become integral to the positioning of Sydney as Australia's leading creative city.

Sustainable Sydney 2030 outlines how the city of Sydney plans to put creativity at the heart of everything we do. We are working to build a creative Sydney, using streets, laneways and public spaces, and ensuring there are affordable places for artists. The city of Sydney has supported the proposal by contributing $30,000 towards a feasibility study. The Sydney Film Festival will auspice the study, which will investigate the scale of a venue, infrastructure, operating model, possible locations and its benefit to the Sydney economy, culture and tourism. The feasibility study will help prepare a case to go to State and Federal Governments for support. A Sydney film centre would bring enormous benefit to Sydney's economy, cultural life and tourism, and I call on the Government to support this initiative and commit to future funding.

Click HERE to view, download and print the Sydney Film Centre petition.