Kings Cross Festival Opening

(6.30pm, Wednesday 21 November, Dandelion Bar Mercure Hotel Sydney)

Thank you, Adrian [Bartels]. Hello, everyone. 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 would also like to acknowledge the Premier/Deputy Premier and Ignatius Jones, artistic director of this Kings Cross Festival, Gabriel Upton and everyone who's worked to bring it to fruition, especially Adrian and the board of the Potts Point Partnership.

Tonight, we are relaunching the Kings Cross Festival.

This Festival is celebrating the artistic and bohemian tradition of the area, the strong sense of local identification, the acceptance, and the diversity of the community which now, increasingly, includes young families. The Festival is saying that this strong ethos and tradition will not be overwhelmed by the problems of recent years.

As we all know, we have had serious problems, because of the concentration of venues that have attracted the huge number of revellers out for a good and mostly inebriated time, invading the neighbourhood on Friday and Saturday nights. This has been exacerbated by the lack of transport options in a geographically small area which has the highest residential population in Australia.

But it is encouraging that the City is working with the Department of Premier & Cabinet, and police and transport authorities to action a plan for Kings Cross for those nights.

Already, the government has improved transport, both with buses and a secure taxi rank and there is better enforcement of licensing regulations, and the liquor freeze has been extended for another three years.

And the City has committed over $2.5 million for improvements which include upgrading the CCTV coverage which is monitored 24 hours a day, an improved cleansing regime, and greening Bayswater Road, information kiosk, ambassadors, and increased the number of compliance officers and importantly, we've also helped sponsor this festival with a grant of $120,000 as well as $80,000 support for the Partnership and $50,000 for the Liquor Accord.

So back to tonight and the fabulous Festival program put together by Ignatius Jones with over 100 events between now and Sunday.

There are the Festival Art Walks on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon, reflecting the strong artistic thread that has always been part of Kings Cross.

Or you can hear the amazing oud player, Joseph Tawadros at Sugarmill, or enjoy a Seaside Shanty Community Picnic at beautiful Beare Park on Sunday.

There are sessions on Writers & Whiskey here at the Dandelion Bar on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there'll be a Concert for the Cross in Fitzroy Gardens on Saturday and - what would the festival be without her! - Carlotta's one-woman show - Feathers Still Flying High on Friday. Nothing if not an eclectic mix!

So get your friends and neighbours together and check out the window displays, enjoy the local bars and cafes, do your Christmas shopping, and enjoy a cultural feast, all in Kings Cross.

It'll be a fantastic Festival, and I want to thank you for all your contributions, particularly, and thank you to:

  • Theresa Fulmanaro at Cre8ion (Creation) for the staging and event management
  • Destria for the website and digital engagement strategy
  • Cav Con for marketing and PR
  • The AZB Creative team
  • Citizens of Culture for the venue entertainment program and
  • The wonderful Festival volunteers for their tireless efforts

A big thank you also to the venues such as Sugarmill, the Kings Cross Hotel, Trademark, Goldfish and Concrete Blonde for opening up their doors for the Festival and showing a different side to entertainment in the Cross.

And finally, and most importantly, a very big thank you to the community for embracing this festival: over 40 local restaurants, 30 retail shops, 13 entertainment venues, over 10 galleries and 10 community organisations, all involved.

Thank you all, and I have great pleasure in the re-launching what I hope will be the first of many, very successful Kings Cross Festivals.