“Imagine borrowing musical instruments at the library; evening childcare so parents can have a night out; or unsold theatre tickets going to high school students,” says Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore.
Clover is keen on improving the Australian city’s cultural landscape, and is seeking ideas from people who live, work and visit Sydney.
“These are just some of the ideas that have emerged so far as we ask Sydneysiders what kind of cultural life they want in the city.
“Can we inspire an even richer creative culture? How do we make sure creative people can afford to live and work here? What persuades people to get involved, go out to shows or invest in local work?”
Sydney is drafting its first cultural policy which will work towards improving the use of its assets, offering the right activities, and helping cultural and creative communities to flourish.
Creative industries are the fastest-growing sector in Sydney, contributing an estimated $8.2 billion to the Sydney’s economy in 2012, and expected to account for $14.9 billion of Sydney’s gross domestic product by 2030.
The last Census in 2011 showed 32,000 people working in creative fields in inner city Sydney, an increase of 22.2 per cent since 2006.
The City already invests $34 million each year in free public events, libraries, public art, grant programs and sponsorship of the city’s major arts festivals.
“As arts funding from other levels of government and private investors becomes uncertain, we need to work (on) how best to support creativity and culture,” the Lord Mayor says.
The city will look at eight areas of improvement for Sydney, including optimising markets for cultural products.
Ralph Myers, who has been artistic director for Surry Hills’ landmark Belvoir theatre since 2011, and has worked across dance, circus, film and opera, is looking forward to sharing his ideas for the cultural policy.
“We’re thrilled by the prospect of a Sydney cultural policy, both as a way of taking stock of the rich artistic life of this fine city, and as a stimulus and inspiration for the generation of even more great stuff,” Ralph says.
“Hopefully it will define culture in the broadest possible terms, both to remove the arts from the elite and shrinking ghetto to which it is so often confined, and to make us all think as openly and playfully about how we can best enjoy life in this great town.”
Performer Vashti Hughes (picture below), whose one-woman cabaret show Mum’s In has been running at the Kings Cross Hotel since last year, said a cultural policy would provide support to independent artists like herself.
“Mum’s In applauds the City of Sydney’s first cultural policy as a way to help support interesting and diverse work that is created by Sydney artists,” Vashti says.
“As the city grows, independent artists can fall through the cracks and become invisible so it’s great to see the City get behind the arts and help provide structures so they can be seen and heard.”
The consultation period for the Creative City Cultural Policy Discussion Paper ends 31 May.
To share your ideas, visit sydneyyoursay.com.au