Powerhouse Parramatta will be the first State cultural institution located in Western Sydney, complementing the already existing Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo.
It will mean unprecedent access to the Powerhouse Collection for locals and visitors, telling great stories of historical, technological, generational and cultural relevance. The new Museum will include:
Over 18 000 square metres of museum exhibition and public spaces which will vary in size, scale and offering
Education spaces for use by students, researchers, the community, education and commercial hirers
1.5 hectares of public domain with a 30 per cent tree canopy cover to provide shade and cool
Parramatta has a young and vibrant population and is known for being a diverse multicultural society. Given the project’s high public interest, and the potential to deliver significant social, cultural and economic benefits to the communities of Parramatta, Greater Sydney and NSW, Infrastructure NSW and the Powerhouse wanted to engage with the local community in order to include their aspirations for a museum, as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Throughout 2020, during COVID-19 restrictions, Aurecon led this program of community and stakeholder engagement on behalf of NSW Government.
Aurecon’s Design to Innovate framework focused on the end user of a project, facilitating innovative thinking about the design and engagement process. Using this unique approach, Aurecon used personas to identify the museum’s community and stakeholders, understanding their priorities and how to reach them.
This approach defined how to talk to the community and stakeholders, and how to engage them across all communication channels.
Meaningful input from community members and stakeholders that have direct influence over the project, live or work close to the site, and will engage with the museum upon completion, was captured over a four-week period. More than 75 per cent of identified community members and stakeholders were consulted with more than 3700 comments received.
An evolving communications strategy
When planning the communications strategy, Aurecon had to rapidly switch from face-to-face engagement to webinar and digital consultations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Engagement continued throughout this unprecedented time with online webinars, virtual stakeholder and group briefings, social media, Aurecon’s bespoke feedback tool swipEngage®, digital and print advertising, phone calls and emails.
This was one of the first major engagement programs in Australia to be delivered entirely online during COVID-19.
Briefings were coordinated in collaboration with stakeholders to accommodate individual circumstances and availability.
Awareness of the project was raised, and benefits were communicated. The insights and feedback received were as detailed and well-informed as traditional in-person engagement methods. Relationships were established with stakeholders via digital channels, and personable engagements were made through the combination of video and audio communication.
At the end of the consultation period, it was demonstrated that Aurecon’s expert use of digital engagement overcame the challenge around community engagement during an unprecedented pandemic.
Shaping the future
Feedback received from the community and stakeholders has helped shape the design and delivery of Powerhouse Parramatta. The 25 000 square metre precinct plans to welcome more than two million visitors in its first year.