Creative City Launch

(10am, Thursday 4 April 2013, Town Hall)

Hello, everyone, welcome. 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.

And this morning, I want to acknowledge all of you - the people who bring our City to life, who help shape its identity and spirit, who give it depth and resonance. Thank you for coming here. This is the start of a conversation we'll be having with you and the broader creative community over the next few weeks.

Today, we're launching our Creative City discussion paper, which Rachel Healy has been working on since late last year. It is - and I want to stress this - a discussion paper, a starting point to look at ways we might improve access to the arts for everyone; build a creative economy; work in partnership and build a creative sector that is sustainable in every sense of the word.

Rachel will be taking us through the paper in a moment. It comes as both the federal and state governments are revealing or working on their own cultural strategies.

So one of the questions for us is where does the City fit into that national picture? Where do we best focus our resources and allocate our priorities? What can we do to strengthen cultural life and participation in Sydney?

The City supports creative culture to the tune of $34 million each year in grants and in-kind contributions, whether it's to major events like Sydney Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, the Biennale, or to smaller or one-off events.

We invest in new public art, and in maintaining our existing public art heritage. We provide grants for numerous exhibitions and events like the upcoming World Musician Day being held in Sydney Park. We support creative start-ups through low rentals at City-owned properties.

Indeed, virtually all of our activities eventually impact on the creative culture of Sydney - whether it's through a planning regime that supports small bars and laneway activities or business seminars tailored specifically to help those businesses flourish.

Or maybe it's the food trucks that allow young and less moneyed people to enjoy a night out in the City or footway dining that gives a lively ambience to cultural precincts.

And it's also through advocacy for legislative changes or through the City's role as consent authority which has given us developments like the Angel Place Recital Hall or the new Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst.

It's timely, therefore to build a comprehensive picture of the existing cultural life of Sydney and to work on ways to ensure it grows and flourishes.

We must support the "seedbeds" of culture, keeping affordable places needed for young artists to find their feet. How can we get the 28-45 year-olds - those people who suddenly disappear from theatre audiences because they're raising families - back in their seats?

What more can we do increase the opportunities for young musicians, and to make sure that more people - especially low income earners - have access to the great cultural events?

Yes, money matters. But ideas matter more, and sometimes opportunities can be created out of little more than a fertile brain and a determination to achieve. We want to support those people, as well as the more established ones - the future John Kaldors or John Polsons or Cate Blanchetts who are now inspiring a younger generation.

We want Sydney to be a creative city for all ages and phases of life, for our indigenous and immigrant communities as well as for our "mainstream" community.

We want your ideas, your knowledge, and your creativity to feed into this process, to help us set priorities, allocate resources wisely and productively, to nurture a distinctively Sydney culture that is much a part of our city, and belongs as much to everyone in our City, as does our amazing harbour.

A culture that could exist nowhere else but Sydney. Please join with us in this great enterprise.