Burwood History

Burwood School of Arts

Burwood School of Arts

The Burwood School of Arts was one of approximately 140 Arts and Mechanics’ Institutes established in Sydney in the 19th century. The School of Arts movement spread through the English-speaking world, originating in the Enlightenment’s passion for science, rationality and popular improvement. These institutions were originally formed by local volunteers, assisted by only small government subsidies, to become centers of local community life. Debating clubs, public lectures, evening technical classes, literary and theatrical events as well as reference and lending libraries provided local communities with recreation and learning. Their operations paved ways for the future public libraries, community centers and a formal network of adult and technical education. You can learn more about the movement here
 
Burwood School of Arts was built in 1879 and quickly became a cultural centre of the suburb. This institution was founded through the efforts of many citizens. Thomas Walker of Yaralla generously donated the site. For many years the School offered chess, billiards and Reading Rooms well stocked with periodicals and newspapers, and a large lending collection of books for the use of the local residents at a small subscription fee. The School’s hall hosted the numerous literary, dramatic and musical societies; dances, concerts and other performances, including lectures and educational activities. Additionally, the hall was used for services of several religious denominations before their own churches were built. Before the Council Chambers were erected in 1887, Burwood Council’s meetings were held at the Burwood School of Arts.
 
Burwood School of Arts building was sold to the Department of Education in 1936. For some time during WW2 it was used as an emergency recording studio of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Later on it was absorbed into the Burwood Public School complex.

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