Sydney Fringe Opening Night

(6.30pm 9 September 2011, 5 Elizabeth Street, Newtown)

Thank you, Richard Hull, Director and hello, everyone. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, and pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

It's great to be here for the launch of the second Sydney Fringe - at which we can expect to be a feast of edgy, provocative art and entertainment.

The program promises everything from circus to performance master classes, from film and digital media, to music, art, theatre, comedy and dance.

There's also an eclectic special events program, and a kids' program.

The 2011 Fringe is building on the success of last year's festival, and while it remains firmly entrenched in the inner West, it's also reaching out to the inner East.

This year, there will be events in TAP Gallery, the National Art School, Slide Bar, Midnight Shift and the Oxford Hotel.

This can only be a good thing for Sydney, and for the cultural buzz we want to generate around Oxford Street, where we're looking to turn some of our City-owned properties into affordable creative spaces to bring a buzz to the street and build a more diverse economy. This could include pop-up studios or galleries, and a mix of free, subsidised artists studios and income-generating uses.

Culture is the life-blood of any city; it's what creates its distinctive ethos and renews its places and people.

It's what makes Newtown such a fabulous place to live or visit and it's brought new life to places like Redfern.

It's rewarding to watch how places evolve and grow into their own distinctive character.

But it doesn't all happen by chance and festivals like the Sydney Fringe make an important contribution to encouraging that evolution.

They also remind us of what a fabulous wealth of creative talent we have here in our City.

In recognition of the important contribution the Sydney Fringe makes to our urban and cultural life, the City has this year committed to provide the festival's first triennial funding of $300,000 over three years.

I'm glad that that helped promote other sponsorships and thus assure its place on the Sydney calendar.

Can I congratulate everyone involved in this sparky newcomer to our cultural calendar, and wish you all a terrific time at Sydney Fringe. Thank you.