Charles Landry City Talk

(6pm 2 November 2011, State Theatre)

Thank you, Adam Spencer, MC, and hello everyone and welcome to our City Talk about the art of City Making - how imagination and creativity play a part. I would like firstly to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, and to pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

Charles Landry has an outstanding international reputation for his thinking about cities, about how they work, what makes them desirable places to be, about the role that imagination and creativity - rather than planning laws - play in their success.

Tonight, he's joined by an outstanding panel for what I'm sure will be a very lively discussion. I welcome the Panel all and look forward to your discussion.

With his colleague, Jonathan Hyams, Charles Landry has developed a Creative City Index - a tool which measures the imaginative pulse of cities.

It lists 10 indicators to measure the creativity, resilience and capacity to future proof a city.

They are:

  • the political and public framework
  • distinctiveness, diversity, vitality and expression
  • openness, trust, tolerance and accessibility
  • entrepreneurship, exploration and innovation
  • strategic leadership, agility and vision
  • talent and the learning landscape
  • communication, connectivity and networking
  • the place and place-making
  • liveability and well-being
  • professionalism and effectiveness

It struck me as I looked at this list that it covers the same grounds to which we ventured in our strategy for Sustainable Sydney 2030.

In working with our residents and businesses, with our creative people and other levels of government, we have provided a framework of ideas and projects that together we hope will allow Sydney to fulfil its potential.

It is, of necessity, a collaborative process - in part, because such vital elements as public transport are largely outside the Council's control. But the collaboration has also contributed largely to the energies and enthusiasm generated by Sustainable Sydney 2030.

To take one small example: we heard in our consultations the very strong message that people wanted a more diverse night-life in Sydney and wanted alternatives to raucous beer barns.

We recognised our laneways as a great, under-used resource, and introduced our Fine-grain Business Development grants to encourage interesting small-scale enterprise. This together with the successful inclusion of my Private Members Bill for small bars into new State liquor laws and with the support of the City and the effective campaigning of the activist group, Raise the Bar, has resulted in 48 small bars opening across the city and of course a renaissance of live music.

While our annual Art & About celebrations in October have provided a renewed focus on the laneways with temporary and permanent art installations. (Check out the laneway installations which will be in place until the end of the Festival of Sydney) and the native birdsong in Angel Place.

This in turn is strengthened by the City's program of physical improvements to many of our laneways, creating pedestrian friendly spaces with new lighting and paving and increased outdoor dining. And all this encourages creative business activity, as does our streamlining of our own approval processes to encourage small bars, and laneway events.

Our current focus is on laneways in Chinatown and within a few months, you should begin to see the changes there, and some wonderful public art.

Last week we launched our plan for the City's night-time economy, for the first time making an in-depth analysis of what we have, and what we need.

Our research shows it's worth $15 billion a year to the City, and that there are as many people moving through the southern end of George Street between midnight and 1am as there are in the peak hour in Martin Place and Pitt Street.

Clearly, their biggest need is safe, accessible transport and in Sustainable Sydney 2030 we proposed a light-rail link from Central to the Quay, looping around the Walsh Bay theatre precinct to Barangaroo and Chinatown back to Central.

The NSW Government has agreed to include light-rail in its review of Sydney's transport needs but it is frustrating to have to wait so long to address this pressing issue.

Even in day-time the congestion - especially of peak-hour buses - is choking George Street. We have allocated $180 million for improvements to the street once light-rail is introduced.

People tell us that they want more diversity and they want extended trading hours - for shops and services, and they want museums, galleries and libraries to open late, building on the success of events such as the Art Gallery's Art After Hours and the Australian Museum's Jurassic Lounge.

The heightened engagement with a broad range of thinkers and business, government and cultural leaders we began with our Sustainable Sydney 2030 consultations continues, and has certainly motivated and stimulated our own City staff and our challenge now is not a lack of ideas or enthusiasm but the time and the money to implement all the things we would like to do!

One of our most exciting plans is for a tri-generation network for Sydney; to reduce our own carbon footprint, both as a council and in partnership with the major city property owners.

Creativity doesn't only embrace the arts.

We can be creative in the way we design, build and run our cities.

We can be creative in engaging our citizens and drawing on the widest range of experience possible.

We can be creative through forums like this which stimulate discussion and ideas.

I hope every person here tonight will go away with a new perception of what it means to be a Sydneysider, and what you can contribute to help make this the City we want it to be!