Art Space Studio Opening

(8pm, Thursday 1st August 2013, Basement Surry Hills)

Thank you, James [Winter]. Hello, everyone, welcome to this great new venture. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

I also acknowledge fellow speakers Mary Darwell of Arts NSW and Lex Lindsay, Chair of Brand X and of course James Winter, Director of Brand X.

The City and Queen Street Studio have had a lengthy and very fruitful association, and we're delighted to be supporting them - albeit indirectly - in this new venture.

In 2008, I launched the temporary Fraser Studios on Broadway. With the space and seed capital from Frasers' Property and support from the City and Arts NSW, Queen Street Studio ran an amazing program of visual and performing arts.

Over almost four years, something like 20,000 artists benefited and the wide-ranging program and exhibitions are documented in a wonderful book, 1,386 Days at Fraser Studios.

Perhaps Campbell Street will produce another, equally inspiring book!

When those studios finally closed, a City of Sydney accommodation grant supported Queen Street to run the performing arts program from Heffron Hall in Darlinghurst, pending its renovations.

However, the visual arts program had no home until now. But the revenue raised from Heffron Hall is now paying the lease here, suggesting that a helping hand for our start-up and creative industries pays multiple dividends - artistically, socially and economically.

During our consultations for Sustainable Sydney 2030, people made it clear that wanted Sydney to be home to a rich and varied creative life and they wanted support for young and emerging artists - the very people most at risk of being priced out of the inner city.

With them go elements of liveability, diversity, quality of life and a healthy economy.

So we're putting significant effort in finding new ways of keeping artists in the City.

Last year, we opened a number of Council properties on Oxford Street to creative tenants and now, more than 160 are working from there at any one time. They're bringing an average of about 7,000 visitors each quarter, and upwards of half a million dollars spent on local goods and services in the first 12 months.

Last month, we opened other spaces at William Street to co-share tenancies and slightly more established creative including architects, a music company, fashion design and a pop-up gallery.

We've done it elsewhere in the LGA with City-owned properties: at 107 Redfern Street, for instance, where a lively and eclectic group of young artists are working and exhibiting, and also in Ultimo, where earlier this year I launched the VibeWire Innovation Lab, a collaborative space for young change-makers and activists.

Now, thanks to Queen Street Studio, we'll have a mix of painters, sculptors, digital media and industrial design happening here - and that's just the first batch. Over the three-year plan for this space, there'll be a total of 36 artists involved, bringing a range of art-forms, skills and styles to enliven the area.

It will also help break down the barriers between art and artists and the public, and will allow the artists not only to sell their work but hopefully to begin to build long-term relationships with the public.

It's a wonderful concept, one the City is proud to support, and I'm delighted to officially open this new space. Congratulations to everyone involved in making it a reality.