BY ROBERT BURTON-BRADLEY
Confusion reigns over the future of a Mardi Gras Museum at Taylor Square after City of Sydney Council approved designs for a bike hub at the site.
Last night, council approved a bid by an as yet undisclosed entity to transform the T2 building into a bicycle hub, but an 11th hour amendment was made to allow expressions of interest from the community for other uses, including a museum.
A report to the council’s Finance Committee earlier this month said the property would be available to community groups “between commercial tenancies” meaning a permanent museum would be incompatible with the council’s plans unless Mardi Gras paid market rates to lease the space it needed.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the council remained committed to the promise made almost three years ago to house a bike hub for cyclists in the building but that they were also seeking interest from the community for additional uses.
“As part of the preliminary design process, we are asking community groups interested in using the former T2 building to put their proposals forward and I look forward to seeing a range of ideas,” Moore told Star Observer.
“The City is providing the organisers of Mardi Gras with a space on Oxford Street to trial a pop-up museum to commemorate the event’s 35th anniversary.”
However, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) seems equally determined to use the T2 site, which is owned by council, as a museum dedicated to LGBTI history.
Mardi Gras CEO Michael Rolik told the Star Observer that the organisation had lodged an application to use the site for a museum despite council’s decision to give the green light to a redesign for the bike hub.
“Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has made a submission to the council for the T2 site to become a permanent museum for the benefit of Sydney’s LGBTQI community,” Rolik said.
“We’d move our temporary Sydney Mardi Gras exhibition and provide it with a permanent home.
“There are only two other such museums in the world and we’re confident, given our community and Mardi Gras’s 35 years of history for the struggle for equality, that the addition of a permanent museum will not only mean so much to our local community but also draw more visitors to Sydney from around the country and the world.”
A spokeswoman for Sydney Council said the tender agreed on by council last night only committed the council to the redesign of the building, and said the final use was still undecided.
Rolik said Mardi Gras was open to sharing the site with a bike hub.
“We are flexible and open to working with the council on sharing this building with a bike hub and/or other community groups, and look forward to proactively working with the City of Sydney to achieve the best outcomes for the LGBTQI community and local businesses,” he said.
However, it’s not clear there would be enough space at the site for both uses and whether they would work together harmoniously.
In August, Mardi Gras chair Peter Urmson told the Star Observer he was hopeful of securing the whole site for use as a museum.
“By having a museum there we are commemorating a lot of the advocacy that’s happened within our community at Taylor Square,” he said.
“It’s the right size, it just seems absolutely appropriate that this is the museum.”