29 August 2013
(Community Recognition Statement, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I congratulate the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts on its 180th anniversary. Since 1833 — it is the oldest operating school of arts in Australia—the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts (SMSA])has played a significant and leading role in adult education.
It broke new ground by enrolling women from 1838 and now provides affordable venues, makes grants to educational and cultural bodies, and is home to Australia's longest-running lending library. A huge range of classes, forums, groups and learning programs continue to operate from the Pitt Street building. To commemorate this anniversary, local historian Garry Wotherspoon has written the first detailed history, uncovering fascinating tales and telling the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts story about engaging ordinary people in diverse education areas, including art, architecture and anatomy. In addition to teaching skills, the school encouraged students to understand and engage with the world around them. I commend the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts for its many years of contributing to adult education and good citizenship.