Relaunch of 107 Projects

(6pm, 107 Redfern Street)

Thank you, Jess, [Cook]. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to 107 Projects!

Some time ago, in the early years of this century, there was an artist run space on Elizabeth Street in Surry Hills. The groups behind it were Knot Gallery, The Frequency Lab, and Token Imagination who worked with a bunch of creative producing music, visual arts, performance and spoken word poetry.

As time went by, though, they - like many other artists - became aware of the diminishing opportunities for artists in the inner city. Spiralling land prices, competition from developers eyeing once-grungy areas, and the Place of Public Entertainment licence requirements were all making life difficult, if not impossible, for young creatives and start-ups.

It was something we at the City were concerned about and a 2006 letter I received from the Elizabeth Street crew confirmed that we had a problem.

We began to address that issue by making City-owned spaces available for creative people and start-up businesses.

We've also struck a first-ever deal with the developer of Sydney's highest residential tower to include a full five floors of space for studios, recording and rehearsal studios, practice rooms and other spaces for artists and performers, and that's for 99 years at a peppercorn rent, so that new generations can continue to enrich the city with all that artists and creative people bring to the urban mix.

A few weeks ago, I launched Art Month, which offers a fantastic program of events ranging from exhibitions to artists' tours and public debates, engaging Sydneysiders with the contemporary artists and galleries at the heart of our creative economy.

In recognition of the importance of creativity to Sydney's life and economy, we delivered the first-ever Cultural Policy last year, exploring ways we can support, promote and enrich our cultural life.

We can't do that, though, unless there are artists living and working in the City, which is why we've allocated City-owned spaces on Oxford and William Streets to artists and other creative, and why we were pleased to have 107 Projects in this building.

We provided an Accommodation Grant to 107 Projects as the lead tenant, managing the studios and public exhibition space, alongside two other successful applicants, Tribal Warrior and The Bower, who have office and workshop space.

Their success in transforming a disused warehouse in a rather unprepossessing building into a vibrant cultural hub is vindication of our faith in them.

That this building has now become a lively and integral part of the local community also vindicates our belief of the terrific contribution the arts can make to community building, to local identity and to the diversity and richness of our city life.

107 Projects have shown they can deliver on their core values, promoting a broad range of arts and community cultural activities, encourage cross-disciplinary and across-community collaboration, and foster excellence in artistic practice.

It has created a welcoming and inclusive environment that has showcased 4,500 artists and welcome 36,000 visitors since 2011.

They've done this with the help of their donors, sponsors and the volunteers who keep the spirit alive and the project on track.

Congratulations to all of you, and we look forward to your continuing contribution to Redfern and to Sydney.