Arts Minister Don Harwin defended the over-run, pointing to unexpected costs that were revealed only after work began on the heritage-listed structure.
“When it was originally announced the project had a much smaller scope,” he said. “The scope has increased several times during the course of the construction, plus engineering problems [were] identified … which were totally unexpected and couldn’t have been foreseen at the time the costings were done.”
Sydney Theatre Company executive director Patrick McIntyre said he was “super excited” to be returning to the wharf after two years in temporary premises at Fox Studios.
“All the spaces are beautiful,” he said. “They are safer, they have better visitor amenity – they are fit-for-purpose in the 21st century.”
In common with other theatre companies, STC was last week allowed to increase the number of patrons to 75 per cent capacity. The relaxation of health guidelines has come at the right time for STC, with its current production, The Picture of Dorian Gray starring Eryn Jean Norvill, receiving rave reviews and an extended season.
“People are signalling they are ready to come back and I think this location is going to be a huge attractor for people – not only locally, but we’re also really interested to see where Australians go when they cant travel overseas,” said McIntyre.
STC will be near neighbours with Sydney Dance Company, whose artistic director Rafael Bonachela said he had long dreamed about the “incredible space” the company now occupies.
“This is one of the most blessed places in the world – for a dance company to be in such an iconic precinct,” he said. “It’s nothing but inspiring.”
Bonachela said he was looking forward to increased interaction and possible collaborations with the other companies in the precinct.
While the companies and their staff are now moving back to the precinct, the public won’t be welcomed back until 2021 as the tenants individually announce their opening dates. Work continues on Pier 2/3 and Mr Harwin said he expected it to be completed “by this time next year”.
Nick Galvin is Arts Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald