Creative Spaces and the Built Environment

Today at the University of Sydney I spoke at the City's forum on Creative Spaces and the Built Environment.

The forum brought together experts within the fields of building, planning, access and safety with those working within the cultural, creative and knowledge sector.

The knowledge and cultural economy in Sydney is growing fast and we need to make sure our city can support it. More than 85 per cent of creative industries are small businesses, and this sector contributes nearly $45 billion to our national economy. Around 40 per cent of those initiatives based in Sydney.

That's why we're building our understand of the regulatory issues impacting upon creative spaces and increasing the number of those spaces in the City.

We've already started the process. In order to support and encourage our artists and creative thinkers to live and work in the city, the City of Sydney has developed its Accommodation Grants program and adapted our properties on Oxford and William Streets to host creative start-ups. We've given old shops, offices, warehouses and even a car park a new life by adapting them to house designers, film makers, musicians, screen writers, architects and artists.

And recently we gave a grant to the Sydney Fringe Festival for a pop-up theatres trial. The Fringe plans to use around five shopfronts in Newtown and Erskineville as temporary theatres during this year's Festival. The grant will help the Fringe meet the costs of negotiating the approvals process. We hope that this will feed into the development of a temporary theatres license, similar to the licence that's used at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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A City of Sydney live/work creative space.

During our consultations for our Creative City Policy we were often told that lengthy, costly and seemingly "irrational" regulatory processes were a deterrent to many cultural initiatives. Small and medium creative spaces talked of the difficulties they had in complying with the Building Code.

Applicants and consent authorities are often faced with a lack of clear criteria against which to assess the impact of new initiatives such as performance spaces, micro-manufacturing workshops, studios, galleries and pop-up retail spaces. This leads to increased costs and prolonged assessment periods - benefitting no one.

As our cities shift from manufacturing and industry to being drivers of our knowledge and cultural economy, we need our regulatory frameworks to adapt, without sacrificing safety, access or amenity.

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