City News

Funding set for Walsh Bay festival

A new community festival in Walsh Bay will attempt to bring people back to the area’s quiet streets and assist struggling retailers.

The Walsh Bay Arts Festival, the brainchild of Walsh Bay Arts and Commerce, is expected to take place in December.

“We’ve had shopfronts empty for seven or eight years because of lack of foot traffic,” said WBAC co-ordinator Brigit Kennedy.

“Only through having festivals have we been able to establish some understanding of where Walsh Bay is.”

Historically the area has a strong reputation for the performing arts. WBAC represents all arts companies based the area, which includes the Sydney Theatre Company, the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and the Sydney Dance Company.

The City of Sydney is set to approve a $30,000 grant for the festival. According to a sub-committee report, contributions from local businesses and arts companies totals $120,000, but the festival would require an additional $30,000 to cover infrastructure requirements, marketing and publicity.

“The festival will lift the profile of one of Australia’s unique arts precincts locally and nationally,” the report states.

In 2010 the precinct hosted an open day which attracted 10,000 attendees, but was lacked the resources to make the event a regular occurrence. According to the City of Sydney, approximately 20,000 people are expected to attend.

“There’s a lot you need when you’re first starting off,” Ms Kennedy said.

“It’s not sustainable to do it through grants all the time; we’ve got a consultant in to make it sustainable.

“We want to run off the Sydney Writers Festival model, where some events you charge for and some events are free.”

Kennedy said that the festival would build on the “cross-pollination” of audiences between events and organisations, and would help turn around the precinct’s economic misfortune.

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