The City will now place the Draft Creative City Cultural Policy on public exhibition after it received a warm welcome from Sydney’s creative arts community while in development. The policy has been two years in the making and comes off the back of some excellent related work after the release of the Open Sydney Strategy and the Live Music Action Plan. I must congratulate staff on this excellent work. Having lived almost all of my life in Sydney I was always left with the feeling that our beautiful city never quite lived up to its potential in this area. As David Williamson pointed out in the 80s there was always a sense that Sydney relied on its big money and water views.
Today I am excited to be part of an organisation that understands how critical the creative community is. I am particularly pleased with the focus on grassroots creative participation in the policy. The huge demand for community courses and activities through venues such as Pine Street Creative Arts Centre prove that there is a real hunger in the community to participate in the sector. The draft policy understands that the creative arts industry is not just about ‘bums on seats’ but community engagement in a much deeper sense. This engagement needs to extend right across our city’s infrastructure to include important elements like affordable housing and better public transport to support artists and patrons. The meta message of the draft policy is one of inclusiveness, a value which I have always believed is critical to Sydney’s success.
We already know that there is significant economic benefit to be gained from boosting Sydney’s creative culture it is not something we can approach with a simple spreadsheet. The draft policy mentions a range of diverse measures that will work together as part of this strategic framework. This includes making more sound-proof rehearsal spaces available, supporting community participation activities through the grants program and working with schools to provide access for students to theatre and other cultural events.
I have long advocated for a strong creative arts focus at Barangaroo and I was pleased to see that the draft policy calls on the City to lobby the Barangaroo Development Authority for the inclusion of major cultural infrastructure at Barangaroo Central precinct. I will be keeping a close watch on this and will certainly continue to add my voice to the chorus calling for more community space in this precinct.
I want to encourage members of community and cultural groups to take a look at the policy and identify areas where the City can support them in their endeavours to connect with their community and tell their story. One of the great benefits of a thriving cultural sector is that it provides opportunities for a diverse community to tell their stories in a way that both connects us and celebrates our differences. The Arts provides a space for us to explore the really fundamental question of what it is to be human. It unites us in a way that strengthens our communities and makes us better people.