Redfern Shopfront Showcase

(5.30pm 10 May 2012, Long Room Community Centre, Redfern Park)

Hello, everyone, and welcome. 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.

It's a pleasure to welcome here this evening Mark Howland, relieving Institute Director for TAFE NSW Sydney Institute, and other senior staff of TAFE. I also welcome David Hannan, director of Sydney Corporate Business Park and a generous sponsor of this initiative.

David has provided the first, second and third prizes, and has also offered study tour scholarships for two students to go to the International Visual Merchandising Conference in New York later this year - a most generous offer, so thank you, David.

And of course a special welcome to the students from TAFE's Visual Merchandising Diploma class who've done such a fantastic job on 14 shop-fronts in Regent and Redfern Streets - and one in Cope Street. You have really helped make a difference!

Shopfront Showcase was devised by the City's Economic Development Unit as a pilot project to help small retailers develop their merchandising skills.

TAFE Ultimo supported the project by giving us the services of their students and using the project as part of their course assessment.

Redfern was chosen as the location because it's starting to emerge from its forlorn and depressed state but it still needs some help to become the thriving centre it can, and will, be.

The process began with our work at Redfern Park and on Redfern Street itself, with the paving, lighting and flower baskets and the removal of the overhead wires. It has been accelerating with the progressive removal of the shopfront shutters and now this project is pointing to a more lively and exciting future.

For the students I'm sure it has been an involving and stimulating "real-world" experience, and I am sure that the retailers have found it to be a valuable asset as a time when small businesses need all the help they can get.

You are the lifeblood of our City villages, you help define the character and create the distinctive ethos of each one. And we will help you in whatever ways we can.

To the students I say, you are our future of our creative city, and it's fabulous to see your imagination, flair and creativity on show. Thank you to everyone who's taken part - students and shop-owners.

It's been a fantastic exercise and I thank our Economic Development Unit for a brilliant idea, and I thank TAFE for its support and David Hannan once again for his.