On Monday night, Council unanimously endorsed my recommendation asking the City of Sydney's CEO to develop a cultural policy and strategy.
The policy will recognise that culture is an integral part of Sydney. Our city has a rich connection with Aboriginal history and counts over 200 nationalities as part of its make up.
We currently spend more than $23 million each year on culture in Sydney, from our world-class events, grants and sponsorships, public art program to our spectacular community facilities.
This support for our city's cultural life already has momentum, we want to make sure it also has direction.
The policy will guide the City's involvement in the arts and culture across Sydney, from major events and festivals to literature, film, food, wine and community initiatives. It will set priorities and directions and bring together our existing work and cultural policy decisions, including:
- increasing access to the arts and culture for disadvantaged people
- adopting a new creative events sponsorship program
- adopting a public art policy and strategy
- increasing opportunities for new permanent and temporary public art through the City of Sydney
- adopting strategies to enliven our laneways
- encouraging small bars and a diversification of the night time economy
- providing new cultural infrastructure such as Surry Hills Library and Community Centre, Eternity Playhouse, Paddington Reservoir Gardens and retaining existing infrastructure such as the Darlinghurst Theatre and Chauvel Cinema
- making available City properties for use as affordable creative spaces.
The policy will complement Open Sydney, our strategy for diversifying the night time economy and our economic development strategy. It will also equip us to work with other levels of government, the private sector and cultural organisations in many important discussions and decisions about Sydney's cultural life.
Over coming months, we will be talking with artists, producers, performers, theatres, galleries, businesses, retailers, residents and visitors to hear their ideas about how the City can further support and encourage a thriving cultural life in Sydney.
City staff are already investigating what has worked in other cities, drawing on studies from overseas and international creative industry benchmarks to help guide the development of the Cultural Policy over the next year.
The City's research and results from industry consultation will be presented to Council later this year in an issues paper, which will go on public exhibition to allow the whole community to have their say, with Council likely to adopt the final Cultural Policy in mid-2013.