Cultural facilities close temporarily in line with social gathering restrictions

24 Mar 2020

All City of Newcastle cultural facilities have closed until further notice but will continue to engage audiences online following a national directive to close all non-essential services to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Newcastle Art Gallery, Civic Theatre and Newcastle Museum, including the attached Newcastle Shop and Visitor Information Centre, have closed as a further public health precaution after yesterday’s temporary closure of library branches and last week’s shutdown of Fort Scratchley. The café at the Civic Theatre will remain open, serving takeaway customers only.

“While we believe that heritage and culture are important elements of a healthy community, in order for our city and organisation to focus on doing everything in our power to manage this pandemic, our cultural facilities will be closed until further notice,” Interim Director of City Wide Services Alissa Jones said. 

“Our cultural facilities’ staff and volunteers know this is a difficult time for Newcastle and the rest of the world, but also understand that the technology available to most households today allows the show to go on in cyberspace.

“Accordingly, the staff and volunteers of Newcastle Museum, Fort Scratchley Historical Society, Civic Theatre and the Art Gallery have set about creating online resources, developing cultural programming and curating materials and other activities involved in caring for and promoting the City’s collections.”

Newcastle Museum Director Julie Baird said her team drew hope and courage from the city’s history of resilience in difficult times.

“We have survived adversity in our past and we will again,” Ms Baird said.

“We will utilise this time to care for the Museum’s collection and heritage assets and focus our efforts on entertaining and informing the community in different ways until it’s safe to welcome you back in person.”

Director of Newcastle Art Gallery Lauretta Morton said the gallery looked forward to raising spirits online and via digital channels. 

“During our closure, the Art Gallery team will develop new initiatives to connect to our audiences through our website and social media channels,” Ms Morton said. “We will be sharing virtual tours of exhibitions, collection highlights and behind-the-scenes videos. Our popular family ArtCart program activity sheets will also be available online.

“The Gallery plays an important role supporting the health and wellbeing of our community and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to the Gallery as soon as possible.”

Civic Services Manager Delia O’Hara said most Civic Theatre shows that had to be postponed had been re-scheduled.

“These include the Very Popular Theatre Company’s production of Chess, Tim Minchin’s Back and Carl Barron. Tickets are on sale for these and other future performances, both online and by phone, while our shopfront ticket office is temporarily closed, so we look forward to welcoming our audience back later in 2020.

“Over at our Visitor Information Centre (VIC), staff are hard at work preparing for the move later in the year to the newly renovated Civic Station building, which will be a vastly superior VIC that caters to Newcastle’s bright future of tourism post-COVID-19.

“Visitor information is always available at visitnewcastle.com.au.”

For further information on City of Newcastle’s response to COVID-19 please visit www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/COVID-19