San Francisco Sister City Exhibition

(6pm 4 August 2011, Carriageworks)

Thank you, Lisa French, Development Manager, Carriageworks. Hello, everyone, welcome to this great Sydney venue. I would like firstly to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

A special welcome to the artists here tonight: Chris Fox, Tessa Zettel, Karl Khoe, Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski, all from Sydney, and Sergio de la Torre from San Francisco. I'm only sorry we haven't the full complement of artists here tonight but I am glad to also welcome the San Francisco project curator, Meg Shiffler.

I would also like to acknowledge Councillor John McInerney and Caroline Pidcock; Councillor Irene Doutney and Councillor Phillip Black, as well as Liz Hayes from the ABC and Sue Donnelly, Executive Director of Australian Major Performing Arts Group.

As two great maritime cities, both outward-looking, diverse and tolerant, Sydney and San Francisco have historically enjoyed a special relationship. That relationship was eventually formalised when San Francisco became our first "sister city" back in 1968.

These days, the sister city notion can seem rather quaintly outmoded, almost genteel. Yet with more than half the world's population now living as city dwellers, it is increasingly obvious that cities must lead the way in creating a just and sustainable future. That if we are to solve the problems of climate change and create a more sustainable way of living, then we need to harness the knowledge, energy and creativity of our cities.

At meetings like the C40, major cities exchange knowledge and information, inspiring and learning from each other in a rich mutual exchange.

There, we are all "sister cities", looking for the best futures possible for our citizens.

And there, Sydney has been able to share the lessons we have learned from working to implement our own Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy.

Now that we are into the implementation phase, we have worked it into a very specific strategy action. But it began - as these works here tonight have done - with a vision of what our City could and should be.

Like these works, it asked provocative questions, posed challenges and looked for new solutions. It asked people - experts and every-day citizens - to think about how Sydney could be in 2030.

People responded with enthusiasm, with imagination and daring. In a way, we gave those many thousands involved in our consultations the opportunity to become artists - or at least to envisage a new way of living and working in the City.

Their responses, in turn, inspired and energised us, as these works here tonight will also do.

They are a potent reminder of why we will always need artists to imagine, and to challenge us.

We see our artists as essential contributors to a truly creative city - one which asks the right questions for this challenging century and we were delight to support this exhibition through our Cultural Grants and Sponsorships program.

As the Mayors of Sydney and San Francisco, we have been directly addressed and I'm sure we both feel inspired as well as challenged.

I'm a pleased to declare the exhibition officially open, and I thank all the artists for their thoughtful and thought-provoking ideas.