Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts
The Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts is leased and operated by the Tenterfield Shire Council. Under the lease agreement the permitted uses for the building include the operation of the Sir Henry Parkes Museum, library, and other cultural community activities.
The National Trust of Australia (NSW) values the significant historical and cultural importance of the Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts. The National Trust owns the building and in 1999 entered a 50-year lease with Tenterfield Shire Council. The Trust acknowledges the collaboration between the National Trust (NSW), Tenterfield Shire Council and the local community has greatly contributed to the area’s rich cultural landscape.
The National Trust and Council are working together to ensure the site’s significant historical and cultural value is protected for the community and visitors to enjoy and to find a viable solution that benefits the community now and into the future.
The National Trust is understanding of the Tenterfield Shire Council’s financial challenges due to the difficult economic environment and the potential impact to the management of the Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts. The National Trust is helping to identify a sustainable solution for the ongoing lease arrangement.
In June 2023 the Tenterfield Shire Council advised the community that due to financial constraints, the museum and cinema/theatre would close to the public on 31 July 2023. The Council would continue the lease agreement and operation of the Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts café and library.
The National Trust is a charity, with the financial challenge of caring for over 30 significant places with no recurrent government funding. The National Trust resources are currently at capacity. While the Trust is fortunate to operate with the amazing support of volunteers, our volunteers operate under a framework of governance and operational support from our paid employees. Most of our employees are over 600km away from Tenterfield.
The National Trust (NSW) Board met in August 2023 to review options that may assist. The Board determined that support to operate the museum is not feasible given the logistics, legal requirements and limited resource capacity of the National Trust.
However, the National Trust has contacted the relevant state and federal ministers regarding Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts and are pursuing further discussions for government support for this important place.
The National Trust will continue to work with Council to progress discussions with government and to find a sustainable solution.
The key facts relevant to the property:
• Historically significant site where Sir Henry Parkes’ speech sparked the creation of the Australian nation.
• The National Trust (NSW) owns the building and in 1999 entered a 50-year (1999-2049) lease with Tenterfield Shire Council.
• The property includes a museum, library, theatre/cinema, café and public toilets.
• The lease is a peppercorn agreement, with no financial payment to the National Trust.
• Under the lease Tenterfield Shire Council is responsible for the collections care and building operations of the museum, theatre/cinema and other cultural community activities.