SUPPORTING CULTURAL VITALITY
At Sydney Town Hall this week, Sydney Theatre Company Artistic
Directors Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton pointed to Sydney's
world-class venues and performers, and explored what we need to do to
promote our cultural strengths and strengthen our cultural vitality.
Our latest CityTalk focused on the links between action on global
warming and Sydney's cultural life, particularly the Sydney Theatre
Company's 'Greening the Wharf' project, which is creating a unique
green cultural precinct at Walsh Bay.
In this era of climate change, the creative impulse must be our
greatest ally. As we map out the challenge confronting us, creative
minds will suggest solutions, imagine new ways of doing things and
offer alternatives. Creativity can help us secure a sustainable future
and it is no surprise that our creative communities are among the
first in finding new green solutions.
Cate and Andrew told a packed audience that Walsh Bay had the
potential to be the world's first green arts precinct. The Sydney
Theatre Company has installed the nation's second largest roof-top
solar energy system so that Pier 4/5 now gets most of its energy from
renewable sources. A rainwater harvesting system is being installed to
provide all of the building's non-potable water.
It was a provocative presentation, based on the optimistic premise
that Sydney has an exciting, unique and distinctive cultural offering,
with many of the basic building blocks in place, but an enduring
failure to celebrate and effectively develop our achievements.
Cate and Andrew, strongly supported by the audience, repeatedly
stressed that for Walsh Bay to deliver on its potential, it needs
improved transport, revitalised nooks and crannies, and more
opportunities for people to linger and soak up the atmosphere.
At an earlier CityTalk in 2007, Belvoir Street Theatre Director Neil
Armfield spoke about the need to maintain the "seedbeds" of
culture-places where artists and performers are nurtured. Authentic
culture must grow organically, but there is much we can do to
fertilise and stimulate that growth.
Neil described opportunities provided to young musos and visual
artists by the Melbourne small bar scene. It was then I resolved to
move a private members bill to introduce small bars into NSW licensing
laws and we now have 36 small bars providing new options at in Sydney
I have worked to expand affordable working space for artists, so that
Sydney's high costs don't force artists out of the inner city. Council
encouraged Frasers to develop the Kensington Street studios on the
former CUB site and has established other artists' studios in a former
Council depot at Woolloomooloo-with more ideas being developed.
Promoting creativity and innovation, Council has also recently funded
the Sydney Film Festival for a further three years; the 10th
anniversary of information technology trade event Cebit Australia; the
Rosemount Sydney Fashion Festival; and the Sydney season of the
musical Mary Poppins.
Since its modest beginnings in 1954, the Sydney Film Festival has
grown to be one of the world's most respected film festivals and a
major fixture during Sydney's winter months. In recent years the
Festival has responded to the City's request that it increase access
for people on low incomes and it now hosts a community screening
during the Festival each year.
Council's support of the Rosemount Sydney Fashion Festival is largely
value-in-kind, including use of Sydney Town Hall. The Festival helps
promote Sydney as a major fashion centre and its use of Town Hall
helps promote the venue for major events. The 2011 Fashion Festival
includes over 50 satellite events across the city and in our
The City's in-kind support for Mary Poppins reflects our wider
strategy to attract major premieres to Sydney, which recently secured
the premiere season of Dr Zhivago and the Australian premiere of
Legally Blonde in 2012. Such shows can draw more than 2,500 extra
visitors to Sydney every week, spending money in our restaurants,
cafes, shops, hotels and visiting our other attractions.
Around 35,000 interstate and international visitors will attend the
Cebit trade event from 27 May to 2 June, providing significant
economic benefits. The City will provide sponsorship of $20,000 for
the event, which includes a one day Sustainability Industry Conference
in Sydney Town Hall.
* Video of City Talk presentations and panel discussions available
for download at: www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/podcasts/citytalks/default
* Officers' Reports on the Sydney Film Festival and Cebit Australia:
* Officers' Reports on the Rosemount Sydney Fashion Festival and Mary