(12.15pm 22 March 2012, Lord Mayor's Reception Room Sydney Town Hall)
Thank you, Rod. Welcome, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our City.
I'd also like to offer a special welcome to Terry Campbell, AO, chairman of AbaF and to the 2011 AbaF national Award winners represented here - Poppy Fassos from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Jessica Block from our Sydney-based but world-renowned Australian Chamber Orchestra.
This partnership, which has been going for more than 23 years, is an outstanding example of what business and our arts companies together can achieve.
We have so much media focus on sport in this country, and so relatively little on the arts that it's easy to overlook the strong support the arts attract - across the community and from business.
So it's encouraging to learn from the most recent ABAF Survey on Private Sector Support that overall support rose by 4.25 per cent to from the previous survey to a total value of $221 million.
I know first hand from my own involvement with Sydney Festival how much that support means and how it enables arts companies to reach world class standards, and to reach audiences who might not otherwise be exposed to their work.
This matters for all of us: the arts are not an optional extra but a vital component of a healthy and thriving city and nation. Art and culture play an important role in community cohesion, they contribute to a safer and more harmonious city, and as international research shows, a rich and diverse cultural life is one of the key attractors for the global cities of the 21st century.
Just as business support enables the arts to flourish, so the arts in turn will support a strong business sector.
Government at all levels also plays its part and I think we achieve our most notable successes when we establish partnerships involving government, business and the arts community. There can be no better example of that than - to cite it again - Sydney Festival - an astonishing blend of high art and popular culture, attracting people from across Sydney as well as interstate and overseas.
To all of you who have joined in these partnerships through ABAF, a very big thank-you. You are helping us build a stronger, richer and more interesting city and a stronger, more distinctive national life and identity.