Artists and their supporters will gather at the Parramatta City Council at 6pm tonight to protest the forced eviction from the Pop Up Parramatta premises by Council management last Friday and demand an extension of their tenancy.
Artists have been locked out of the site, with Aboriginal artefacts still inside, including a spear belonging to the historical figure Bennelong, along with many other items of vital cultural significance.
Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The centre provides an invaluable cultural and arts space in Parramatta, we are urging Parramatta Council to step up and continue to support this important cultural space in the heart of Parramatta.
“Up until now this has been a great story for Parramatta Council, it would be a tragedy of Parramatta lost this cultural hub for Indigenous and refugee artists.
“No council should be stopping Aboriginal people from accessing their history, culture and artefacts” Mr Shoebridge said.
Parramatta Greens Councillor Phil Bradley said:
“I am trying to extend access hours and days to the end of January for the artist licensees to access their property and to get help in finding alternative premises and/or storage for them.
“We must help to alleviate the extreme stress the licensees are suffering.” Councillor Bradley said.
Artist and local Aboriginal elder Kerrie Kenton said:
“As an Aboriginal Knowledge holder of the Traditional lands of Parramatta, I have been Denied religious & cultural practice. My personal belongings are being held to ransom by the City of Parramatta Council.
“229 years of systematic genocide of my Culture & my basic human rights to religious freedom is ever present in Parramatta in 2017. Despite many heartfelt pleas to an extension, we have only received cold indifference. The health of myself and my family have suffered and I have been denied an opportunity to earn income.
“To evict us just before Christmas with no available space anywhere is inhumane. There have been no support for my disabilities or any support in relocating. I have had a 20 year relationship with Council, I have won their annual Artist fellowship & the Indigenous Artist residency in Montreal Canada & have never felt so disrespected.