Backlash against projection-mapped advertising on Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House has come under fire for allowing its landmark sails to be used as a canvas for a projection-mapped promotion of the $13m Everest horse race.

What had been envisioned as a glittering launch by Racing New South Wales turned into a battleground as protestors convened on the Sydney Opera House, chanting ‘not for sale’.

The request to allow advertising on the city’s cultural icon is understood to have been turned down initially by its chief executive, Louise Herron. According to state legislation, the projection of colours and images on to the sails of the Opera House should be “confined to exceptional, non-commercial occasions of brief duration”.

However, Heron’s decision was later overruled by the state premier, Gladys Berejiklian, who is believed to have come under increasting pressure from Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Quarter of million people sign petition against the promotion

The decision to go ahead was clearly out of step with many sectors of the public who are becoming increasingly concerned about political pressure to turn Sydney Opera House into a commercial billboard. Over a quarter of a million people put their names to a petition against the plan and protestors greeted the moment the sails lit up with jeers.

Former head of Sydney Opera House, Michael Lynch, furiously condemned politicians on both sides for ‘corrupting the artistic integrity of the building’. The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, also derrided the projection as ‘blatant commercialism’.

However, there were some who defended the decision saying the Everest race is one of the state’s biggest money-spinners. Others described the projection-mapped advertising as ‘the slippery slope’.

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