Gretel Packer, David Gonski join Sydney's new captains of culture

Four of Sydney's wealthiest philanthropists, Gretel Packer, David Gonski, John Kaldor and Simon Mordant, will join a high-powered group to drive cultural policy in NSW under a Baird government arts shakeup.

Deputy premier Troy Grant has complained that the arts "bureaucracy" has become disconnected from its purpose.

Mr Grant will merge Screen NSW and Arts NSW into one agency, the Office of Culture, Arts and Screen.

Above it will sit a committee of 15 business people, arts industry participants, and the chairs of major cultural institutions.

Mr Mordant, an investment banker and chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art, said Mr Grant had "a sense of frustration with the arts bureaucracy" who have been "reactive rather than proactive".

The committee would instead use "innovative and collaborative thinking and be a sounding board for the government".

"If you rely on the bureaucracy to do that, you won't achieve your objectives," Mr Mordant said.

One of its first projects will be creating a cultural pass that allows visitors entrance to multiple cultural institutions.

Mr Mordant said the arts industry could also boost Sydney's night time economy, and he would personally like to see a 24-hour arts weekend held once a year, with galleries and museums staying open through the night.

Other committee members include Macquarie Bank chief executive Nicholas Moore (Sydney Opera House chairman), Commonwealth Bank chairwoman Catherine Livingstone (Australian Museum) and Western Sydney University vice chancellor Barney Glover (Powerhouse Museum).

"The Premier announced a $600 million fund for cultural projects, I'm hoping with the results of Ausgrid so good, there will be more money going to cultural infrastructure. I would hope all of us in a room would persuade the government to spend more," said Mr Mordant.

Mr Kaldor gifted $35 million in artworks to the Art Gallery of NSW in 2011, and has brought some of the world's biggest international artists to Sydney, including Christo and Jeff Koons.

Mr Mordant previously donated $15 million to the Museum of Contemporary Art for building works. But he said philanthropists such as Ms Packer weren't tapped only for their ability to raise funds.

"Gretel Packer is a passionate philanthropist and passionate about the arts," he said.

Carriageworks chief executive Lisa Havilah said the new structure would focus the institutions on becoming more collaborative and entrepreneurial.

She said Mr Grant, a former Dubbo policeman, had been "highly engaged" since becoming arts minister.

"Sometimes when people come into that portfolio they think they know. Troy came in with a very open mind, is expansive in his thinking, and very inclusive. He has pushed an agenda that the arts is for all of NSW, and the investment in regional and western Sydney has gone up significantly," she said.

"He really sees the arts having a role in the every day."

The NSW Young Australian of the Year, Genevieve Clay-Smith, who won Tropfest with a film that broke down the social stigma around disability, will also join the advisory committee.

Campbelltown Arts Centre director Michael Dagostino and Northern Rivers Screenworks general manager Ken Crouch will represent western Sydney and regional NSW in the group.

Other committee members are ARIA chief executive Dan Rosen, Sydney Festival artistic director Wesley Enoch, former arts minister and current State Library chairman George Souris, Carriageworks chairwoman Sam Mostyn and News Corporation's Brett Clegg.

Mr Grant said Screen NSW will maintain its brand.

The story Gretel Packer, David Gonski join Sydney's new captains of culture first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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