What makes a great arts precinct – from Lisa Havilah and Mark Raggat at Tomorrowland

When Lisa Havilah signed up to be chief executive of Sydney’s premier contemporary museum, she did so in the hope to establish a new museum paradigm for one of Australia’s oldest and most important cultural institutions. 

For those who’ve never visited, the Powerhouse Museum is well-known for its focus on arts, science, innovation and design. 

And now it’s getting a facelift.

It’s a massive undertaking: the landmark renewal is the largest cultural infrastructure project in Australia since the Sydney Opera House. 

It includes the creation of the museum’s new flagship, Powerhouse Parramatta; the revitalisation of Powerhouse Museum Ultimo; the expansion of the Powerhouse, Castle Hill; and the digitisation of the Powerhouse Collection.

It’s not her first rodeo: she’s held the role since leaving Carriageworks – another major entertainment precinct – from 2012 to 2019. 

Under her leadership Carriageworks experienced extraordinary audience, artistic and commercial growth, becoming the fastest growing cultural precinct in Australia.

And before that, she was Director of Campbelltown Arts Centre, where she pioneered an internationally renowned contemporary arts program that brought together culturally and socially diverse communities.

At Tomorrowland, you’ll learn what it takes to bring an arts and cultural precinct into reality, attract creatives and capture the hearts and minds of locals and visitors alike. 

Why is this so important?

Art precincts drive economic value, but what defines them in the first place are intangible cultural concepts like accessibility, diversity and nurturing creativity to encourage collaboration and the flow of ideas. 

Powerhouse is fostering this value through new sites at Parramatta, restoration, expansion and refurbishment in Ultimo, Castle Hill and Observatory, and digitising its collection for the online space. 

At Tomorrowland Havilah will be discussing how arts precincts can unlock a new side to a city, creating value for its communities, including partners and industry.

Also on stage will be Mark Raggatt, Director of ARM Architecture. 

ARM (or Ashton Raggatt McDougall) is an award-winning architecture, urban design, master planning and interior design practice with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide. 

As Director, Mark knows what it takes to bring a cultural precinct to life – from inception through to concept and sketch-design phases, through to construction and development. 

He will share learnings from the HOTA (Home of the Arts) project – a mammoth masterplan for a landscape and cultural precinct to be built over 17 hectares at Evandale in the Gold Coast.

Surrounded by parklands and a lake and close to Surfers Paradise, the masterplan will attract live performances, creative arts and film screenings, theatres and galleries. 

This project is set to be built over the next 15 years – but Mark says looking to just the next five years there are already plenty of insights to share. 

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