The Watsons Bay markets will return on January 30 this month, as a three-year, $17,500 funding boost from Woollahra Council readies organisers to welcome back visitors for the summer period.
Local retailers and businesses across Sydney have struggled over a summer period that was initially billed as the return to regular trading following high vaccination numbers but has been soured by the Omicron outbreak, which continues to surge COVID-19 cases throughout NSW.
Organisers of the Watsons Bay markets, Cambridge Markets Sydney, received a total of $17,500 from Woollahra Council under its placemaking and revitalisation grant programs during the past three financial years. The markets were the only successful applicant across both 2019/20 and 2020/21 placemaking grants and the $115,000 revitalisation program.
The council said that the market’s “boutique homewares, fashion, design, specialty craft and gourmet foods” complemented its own services and was important for community-focused economic development, adding that it provided “a beautiful and happy experience for residents and day-trippers alike”.
The revitalisation grants program, which was designed to help rejuvenate the Woollahra area following the Sydney lockdowns, awarded the Watsons Bay markets with $5000 of funding, the highest amount eligible for non-profits and charities in the scheme. Cambridge Markets were initially provided with $5000 under the placemaking grant in 2019/20 and were granted an additional $7500 the following year.
As part of the COVID-19 stimulus and recovery plan, the NSW government announced its small business fees and charges rebate, which has since increased from $1500 to $2000 and could be used to offset costs and charges due and paid from 1 March last year.
Demand soared for outdoor hospitality and entertainment venues during the pandemic, with many Sydney councils providing funding to help businesses pivot their operations to continue trading during the pandemic.
In Woollahra, a total of $7.9 million has been spent as part of relief measures to ease the burden of COVID-19 on the local economy. Part of the funding included waiving $700,000 worth of footway dining fees during lockdowns and for the two months following the resumption of footway dining, switching parking meters off and providing $3.2m of commercial tenant relief.
In the neighbouring City of Sydney, a $4 million grant was recently announced for its creative and cultural sector in a bid to promote the return of activity in the inner city to workers, tourists and international students. This follows the completion of the first section of a new $43.5m pedestrian zone in George Street in September of last year, which signalled a commitment to wider spaces for commercial operation and social distancing in the city.