(2pm, Monday 8 May 2013, Customs House)
Good afternoon/morning, everyone. Welcome to our meeting. 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.
We brought Rachel Healy in last year to develop the Creative City policy we'll be discussing today.
The City already supports Sydney's creative life in a range of ways: through our support for events such as Sydney Festival, the Film Festival, Mardi Gras, to name some of the big-ticket items; through our support for community arts, with our Pine Street centre; through our extensive Public Art program, and of course, through our grants programs.
Our planning regime and City projects can also act to shape and support creative life. This is apparent through decisions, for example, to support small bars and re-animate the City's laneways, or through using our development consent powers to demand new cultural facilities as part of a development.
So our role is very broad and we felt - at a time when government support for culture and creativity seems at a low ebb across Australia - that we should develop a clear cultural policy to ensure our efforts are directed where they will be most effective.
A rich cultural life is not peripheral but vital to the creation of a strong, thriving and prosperous city, and this discussion paper is a step towards that goal.
From our point of view, it is essential that you be involved with us in looking at Sydney's cultural life: what are the great things about it? What needs changing? What difficulties stand in the way, and what can we do to deal with them? Is our cultural life accessible to all? How do we make sure the next generation of artists and innovators are not only attracted to Sydney, but can afford to live and work here?
Neither we, nor you, will have all the answers. But I hope we're making a start by asking the right questions.
This morning, Rachel will give you an overview of her work so far. Then the discussion can begin. I thank you all for coming and would like to say in conclusion, please continue to work with us on this.
We are not intending the final report to sit on a shelf, gathering dust.
We mean it to give us an action plan that will enable us to work with you to support and facilitate a creative 21st Century city.