(6.30pm 29 August 2012, 113-115 William Street)
Thank you, Steve Posel - Director, Object gallery. Hello, everyone, it's great to be here with you this evening. I'd 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 people of 200 nationalities who call our city home.
Tonight, too, I want to pay tribute to Julie and her cohort at Cloth Fabric, and congratulate them on a fantastic 17 years in business. That's 17 years of making beautiful things that are environmentally aware and that promote sustainable living.
Creativity in this century can be about so much more than style: it can make an immense contribution to solving the challenges we face - especially the challenge of building a sustainable world. Cloth Fabric faced that challenge head-on and is proof of the message I give so often - that the drive to live and work sustainably can actually be very good for business!
This is why building a creative city is an integral part of our Sydney 2030 strategy - and one that we're putting into action on Oxford Street, and now here at William Street providing affordable spaces for creative people to live and work.
Last December I asked Council staff to investigate how we might use these two properties as a creative industry hub, much as we had already done with properties in Oxford Street.
We knew the demand for affordable creative spaces remains strong as we had more than 280 expressions of interest in the Oxford Street spaces, and 55 very high quality expressions of interest actually made.
Those spaces are now working well, and we look to build on that beginning with Cloth Fabric here in William St.
Eventually these two buildings will house a mix of commercial and creative tenancies - restaurants or bars, perhaps, and office spaces, showrooms and live/work spaces and galleries for artists, on leases ranging from five to 10 years.
William Street now joins nearby areas in an arc of creativity. This includes First Draft Depot, the gallery and artist residence in Riley Street; the redevelopment of the Burton Street Tabernacle into the Eternity Playhouse; the Oxford Street spaces and our funding for independent theatre programs in Darlinghurst and Kings Cross.
Cloth Art makes an admirable anchor tenant, that will help us draw the right mix to these buildings. The company's fabrics are very much inspired by Australia's natural world, and they are still made by hand in country NSW.
The team works collaboratively - another significant hallmark! - and their production methods ensure there's no wastage. In fact, they've been working with the City on what Julie calls "upcycling" workshops, and I'm sure there'll be more held here.
It's really piquant that the upcycling will take place in what was once a car showroom - in fact Julie tells me we're speaking where a red Ferrari used to be on display!
Well, excitement doesn't only come from flash cars.
It comes from creativity and flair and a genuine engagement with our world.
I know Cloth Fabric will bring colour, movement and excitement to William Street, and I'm delighted to declare it formally open.