The Sydney Opera House is seen promoting The Everest race during the TAB Everest Barrier Draw. Picture: Getty
The Sydney Opera House is seen promoting The Everest race during the TAB Everest Barrier Draw. Picture: Getty

Opera House promo won’t happen again, here's why

A DECISION to project a promotion for a horse race onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House will not be repeated next year.

After days of controversy and a massive protest on Tuesday night, Racing New South Wales late today confirmed it will steer clear of the iconic building from now on.

Thousands of outraged Sydneysiders descended on the Opera House to protest a six-minute light display that has divided the city.

Angry chants were heard as the barrier numbers for the Everest Cup were drawn and shone on the building, to boos from the crowd who slammed the show for its lacklustre look.

"We were determined to go ahead with this and promote Sydney for us," chief operating officer of Racing NSW Graeme Hinton told Sunrise.

"We were surprised a little bit by some of the backlash. Now is a time to put it behind us and move forward."

 

A large crowd gather to protest against racing advertising on the Opera House sails. Picture: Getty
A large crowd gather to protest against racing advertising on the Opera House sails. Picture: Getty

 

A survey showed a whopping 80 per cent of NSW residents opposed the controversial light display.

However, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has refused to rule out using the Opera House to promote other events.

"Obviously we are always about supporting events. I hear loudly what people have said about the Opera House," she told Today this morning.

"The Opera House guidelines have from time to time been amended, whether it's for other sporting events or other causes. The guidelines have always been stretched in the past and the commercialisation of the Opera House has always been there.

"I don't want NSW to fall behind because other cities and states are promoting these events. These are issues that we take on board."

Protesters at The Sydney Opera House objecting to the sails of the Opera House being used as an advertising billboard for the Everest Cup.
Protesters at The Sydney Opera House objecting to the sails of the Opera House being used as an advertising billboard for the Everest Cup.

 

Racing NSW confirmed it would not use the Opera House to promote the Everest Cup, billed as the world's richest horse race, again.

People could also be heard chanting against Alan Jones, the shock jock who started the furore late last week.

In an interview that has drawn widespread criticism for its aggressive tone, Mr Jones demanding the Opera House boss Louise Herron be sacked for refusing to allow the projection.

The government then overturned a decision by management, which had rejected the light show plan saying it breached its non-commercial guidelines.

 

Defend the Sydney Opera House organiser Julie Macken speaks to demonstrators. Picture: AAP
Defend the Sydney Opera House organiser Julie Macken speaks to demonstrators. Picture: AAP

 

Mr Jones apologised yesterday for publicly berating Ms Herron.

Tony Mohr, executive director of Alliance for Gambling Reform, said he would not be bullied by the likes of Mr Jones.

"We have an icon of Australia that has been corporatised and sold off to an industry that will bully anyone who gets in their way," he said. "People like Alan Jones think they can bully us.

"Today is the second day of the NSW government's gambling awareness week - this shows it is just a meaningless PR stunt."

 

The Sydney Opera House is lit up promoting The Everest race. Picture: Getty
The Sydney Opera House is lit up promoting The Everest race. Picture: Getty

 

National Trust NSW conservation director Graham Quint said projecting commercial material onto the Opera House contravened state laws.

The heritage expert added the Racing NSW promotion had been referred to the World Heritage body UNESCO.

The venue's own conservation management plan states "the Sydney Opera House exterior, particularly the shells … should not be regarded as a giant billboard or commercial/advertising opportunity."

The row has carried on for several days and drawn in countless voices, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison.


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