A $100 million investment to promote Sydney’s burgeoning arts scene is a welcome development, but will it make the city more attractive to tourists?
The Paparazza Trust, an arts and culture think-tank, says it’s hopeful that the investment will help to boost the number of foreign visitors to Sydney’s iconic waterfront.
But, according to the Paparazing Foundation, the investment could prove to be “a huge waste of time” and “not worth the money”.
The fund is proposing to fund a number of new initiatives, including the installation of a new outdoor art gallery, and an art gallery in the heart of the CBD.
“If it doesn’t have a positive impact on the tourism industry, I’m not sure what will,” said Professor Alan Hamer, co-founder of the Paparlazing Foundation.
Mr Hamer said it was unlikely the investment would make Sydney more appealing to tourists, who tend to prefer smaller venues.
“[It] is unlikely that it will make Sydney less attractive to foreign tourists,” he said.
The Paparlaze Trust’s latest annual report has not been made public, but it has been cited in The Sydney Morning Herald.
In the report, the trust’s executive director, James A. Laskin, said the investment was a “great chance to create a significant change” in the city.
According to the report: “Our current economic model is not sustainable and our long-term economic development strategy is not viable and cannot support an additional investment of $100m.”
Professor Laskins also suggested the investment should be scaled down in the short-term, but the trust would be “happy” to “re-invest” in a different location if the investment proved “a significant gain”.
“This investment is a great opportunity to engage the community with the Papalazing Foundation and support the development of new and innovative venues and experiences, including art galleries, art museums and cultural centres,” he wrote.
While the trust has not made any official comment on the proposal, the proposal does not appear to have been officially approved by the city council.
A spokeswoman for the city of Sydney said it had “received the report” and was “reviewing it”.
“It is our view that the proposal will have no impact on local tourism, and will have little to no impact in terms of overall visitor numbers or on overall visitor spend,” the spokeswoman said.
“The Paparing Trust and the City of Sydney have a long-standing relationship and we expect this relationship to continue.”
“There will be no impact to tourism.”
The report is not the first time the Paparing Foundation has been involved in controversial projects.
An earlier report by the foundation, called the Paparaazing Fund, was also criticised by some for promoting a “perverse” vision of Sydney’s culture and society.
Professor Hamer believes that the Paparsaazing Foundation’s investment will be seen as an opportunity to “mobilise” the community, while “giving people a sense of ownership of the city”.
“I’m not worried about the money, I am worried about what it’s going to do to the community and what it might do to other places around Sydney,” he told The Sydney Evening Post.
He said the Paparenga Trust was “an excellent opportunity for the Paparrazza Foundation to show its support for the future of Sydney”.
Professor A.K. O’Connor, a research fellow at the Australian National University’s Institute of Cultural Studies, said it could be seen “as a bit of a mis-branding”.
“The Papare ngas Foundation, in a way, is the original paparazzan who created the concept of the ‘city of art’, which is something that the community of Sydney has been trying to get its feet under for a long time,” he explained.
Professor O’Connors also noted that the fund would be investing in a number different arts organisations and cultural spaces around the city, including in the CBD, the inner-city areas and the west of the harbour.
It was also “an opportunity for Paparzas to demonstrate that Sydney has a strong cultural heritage”.
But Professor O’Connor said that would be a “distraction” from what the Paparesa Trust would be doing.
Professors Hamer and Lasker agreed that “a lot of money” could be better spent.
However, Professor O’sConnor said that the focus on the Paparenzas’ investment “shouldn’t detract from the overall objective of creating a vibrant, vibrant, creative city”.