City News

City of Sydney to inject $4 million into creative and cultural precincts following laneway party success

The City has announced a new grant of up to $4 million for its creative and cultural industry. Photo: City of Sydney.

By DANIEL LO SURDO

The City of Sydney has announced that it will inject up to $4 million into the inner city’s creative and cultural precincts as it continues its plans for a 24-hour economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City will host an evening of “networking and collaboration” next month for property owners and businesses along with those involved in the creative and cultural sector, with the new grant expected to be issued in $100,000 to $300,000 allocations to a minimum of five successful applicants.

COVID-19 pivoted the operations of many hospitality and entertainment venues in the inner city, with outdoor settings where ventilation and social distancing could occur preferred to indoor spaces.

The City has supported these measures in the past 18 months, with council funding being allocated to street activation and live performances in what Lord Mayor Clover Moore described as a “silver lining” of the pandemic, after the NSW government agreed to partner with the City on the policy.

The York, Clarence and Kent (YCK) Laneways project, a six-week pop-up festival in the precinct between Town Hall and Wynyard, was recently launched behind the backing of a City grant. The project involved 10 late-night venues collaborating to bring cultural and creative events back to life after almost two years of a COVID-induced slumber.

Programming during the festival included live music, comedy, poetry and live art, with Karl Schlothauer, owner of Stitch Bar in York Street, saying that “venues who challenged the status quo with their events saw the best results”.

“We needed to do something big to attract people back to the city centre and it is a lot easier to make yourself heard as a collective rather than an individual,” Mr Schlothauer said. “Each of us brought different strengths to the table, allowing us to divide and conquer.”

Rebuilding confidence

In September last year, the City announced that the first section of a $43.5m pedestrian zone on George Street had been opened for public use as part of a commitment to allow for greater social distancing and opportunities for commercial operation.

While announcing the project, Cr Moore said that council needed to “rebuild confidence and promote the return of activity in the city” following the loss of tourists, workers and international students.

“We need to prioritise access for people to move around safely so we can remain vigilant and reduce the risk of virus outbreaks,” she said.

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