(6pm, National Art School, East Sydney)
Thank you, Glenn, [Barkley], and good evening, everyone.
I would like to officially welcome you to the launch of Art Month Sydney 2015 and acknowledge the distinguished guests and supporters here - who I'm sure all agree that Art Month Sydney is a great cause to support!
Over the last five years, it has grown to become an important element of Sydney's cultural calendar.
Even a brief glance at the program suggests what a fantastic array of offerings is on the Art Month menu. There is literally a menu at Utopia Art in Waterloo for a night of ceramics, food and conversation.
There's an exhibition of work gathered from six Sydney private collections; an East Sydney tour demystifying the business of buying art; East Sydney and Woolloomooloo feature in a night of art, music and performance; there are artists' tours - one endearingly described as "meandering with intent", and the hardy perennial which we at the City know all too well - the public art debate!
Altogether Art Month provides fresh and imaginative opportunities to engage people with the contemporary artists and galleries at the heart of our creative economy in Sydney.
This is an increasingly important part of our identity, and our appeal as a global city, and we at the city have developed Sydney's first-ever cultural policy to identify ways in which we can foster and support our artists and the evolution of a rich and rewarding cultural life.
We can't do that, though, unless there are artists living and working in the city, so to that end, we've allocated City-owned spaces on Oxford and William Streets to artists and other creatives to enable them to live and work in Sydney.
And we've recently negotiated with the developer of Sydney's tallest residential building in Bathurst Street a $25 million cultural creative centre - that is five full floors with space for studios, rehearsal rooms and other facilities for artists and performers and our lease is for 99 years at a peppercorn rent.
Partnerships like that between the City and a developer is just one example of what can be achieved. And so it is encouraging to see Art Month Sydney practise such partnerships, with business, government and the creative sector all working together to produce this outstanding event.
It is a great development for Sydney and I am delighted to declare it open and wish everyone a great time in Art Month.