Michael Lynch brings important global arts expertise to the Bondi Pavilion battle

Michael Lynch brings important global arts expertise to the Bondi Pavilion battle

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Friday, 07 October 2016
Interviews

Michael Lynch brings exceptional experience in arts leadership to enhancing the future direction of Bondi Pavilion, having led the Australia Council, the Sydney Opera House, London’s Southbank Centre, Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District and Sydney Theatre Company. He was awarded an Order of Australia in 2001, was named a Commander of the British Empire in 2008 and the Sue Nattrass Award at this year’s Helpman Awards, all for services to the arts. He has recently been appointed interim Director of the National Arts School in Darlinghurst, is a local resident of Waverley, and brought his unique experience and insights to the recent FuturePav community engagement session on the future of Bondi Pavilion.

Gerry North from StreetArts on BBR catches up with Michael.

Gerry: How are you?

Michael: I’m good, I’m good. I’ve just recently moved back into the ‘hood, I’ve been away from Sydney for 14 years, but I’ve moved back to Bronte after being away in England, Melbourne, and Hong Kong, and immediately confronted the idea of what was going on with the Pavilion. I was first taken to the Pavilion by my grandfather 62 years ago so the connections are deep and long. I learned to swim there, my uncle nearly drowned me there at one point in a hideous surf, so Bondi itself, the beach and the Pavilion, seem to me to be fundamentally something that is really important. It seems to me the thing that makes Bondi the place that it is, is the fact that there is a real community both young, old, new, and old, in terms of making it up. In a place like Waverley Council where there have never been really good community or any sort of real cultural facilities, that somewhere like the Bondi Pavilion is important.

Gerry: It is so important, and you went there to speak the other night, and you saw 200 people that stayed for the three hours, were you surprised at the number and their willingness to stay?

Michael: I guess I was pleasantly surprised that people are prepared to engage in a discussion about it. It looked as though the whole project had been dropped on everybody and clearly that community, some of whom I knew, lots of them I didn’t, were clearly quite passionate about they wanted to be heard … and there had been some signs from the Council that the way they had gone about it was not necessarily the way that was going to take the community with them. I think there do need to be things done with the Bondi Pavilion, it’s pretty run down, it clearly could be made much better ..

Gerry: Some of the thoughts are that it’s been left to be neglected and therefore they come in as the big rescue at the end and say look we’ll smarten it up but by putting commercial places into the Pavilion. And the argument is by mums and dads who have now got kids in their twenties who went there all through their teenage years and younger, they say there are so many commercial places in Bondi, we are surrounded by commercial places, so why not just keep this for the community?

Michael: I can see why Council’s want to make them better and some of the public facility stuff should be better, but Bondi has gone nuts in terms of commercial development over the 14 years I’ve been away, and the idea of safeguarding, protecting, and even developing the Bondi Pavilion to me into something that the community feels happy with, the community uses, and that the people visiting think wow what a great place to come to, and be able to do other things, other than just eat in a whole range of restaurants or get pissed in the bars …

Gerry: Well the very nature of Bondi is it’s a relaxed place, very high quality five star restaurants don’t do well down there because the general demographic is to go and eat fish and chips with the seagulls … and maybe have a glass of wine … but introducing five star restaurants into the Pavilion is not going to go.

Michael: Yes, and I think that’s what the Council has to recognise, it’s an important part of the community space in Bondi, and you can do things to make it work better. My daughter’s an actress who has worked in the theatre a number of times .. I know there are limitations that by virtue of a lack of investment and a lack of planning around how the public facilities work … but that doesn’t mean that you shut out the community. My fundamental message the other day was that this is community space, the people who live in Bondi pay rates, they have supported the Council, and they would like to see some better way of dealing with this rather than the tired old way that Sydney seems to do things, of believing that we just hand over to the developers what was community spaces. So as someone who wants to spend his aging years in Bondi and around there, I want there to be spaces for people to do arts activities, to be able to go to the theatre, to be able to watch films, to participate in some of the weird hybrid events that Bondi has thrown up over time. The Council needs to be listening to the community, and particularly as we go into this next phase of bringing the three councils together. If that goes ahead its even more important that community facilities that the people of Bondi identify and feel strongly about are going to be able to work.

Gerry: Thanks for sharing your views on Street Arts Michael!

 

Bondi Association for Arts and Music Inc (BAAM) is a non profit organisation focused on supporting independent arts and culture in Sydney’s eastside, including running a 64 live show, 130 person strong, digital radio platform Bondi Beach Radio. In addition to recognising the community use cultural heritage of the space, BAAM is supportive of preserving and enhancing the music studio’s, live music program, and ability of the space to host multi room, multi stage music and cultural festivals including the Latin American Festival and Jewish Music Festival.

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