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SETTING THE MANDATE TO MAKE SPACE FOR CULTURE WITHIN THE CITY OF SYDNEY

City of Sydney - NSW, Australia
Facilitation, Research, Insights, Strategy, Delivery

The City of Sydney is a national leader in delivering support for the creative and cultural industries, built upon a strong policy commitment that has emerged over the past decade. With the 2014 Creative City Cultural Policy and Action Plan, and the Live Music and Performance Action Plan, a precedent has been set about how local government can help foster opportunities for growth and engagement across the cultural sector and the wider community. 

As part of this policy commitment, there has also been a dedicated effort to increase the availability and affordability of creative spaces for the sector. With a rapidly gentrifying city and increased population, the supply of suitable venues and spaces for creative and cultural activity has retracted. The Sydney community has fewer opportunities to practice or engage with cultural content, impacting the economic viability of the sector as well as the wellbeing of Sydneysiders. The scale of space required to meet growth projections is beyond the scope of the City to deliver, meaning alternative ways to protect and increase creative space are required.

Left Bank Co., together with community engagement agency JOC Consulting, partnered to deliver an in-depth cultural infrastructure study for the City of Sydney’s Cultural Strategy team. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the current state of affairs for Sydney’s provision of creative space through a detailed program of literature reviews, stakeholder engagement and policy analysis, with the goal of identifying the key opportunities and policy mechanisms that the City could pursue to facilitate an increase in sustainable, long-term cultural infrastructure.

Working collaboratively with the City’s Cultural Strategy team, and in consultation with the sector and other departments within Council, we analysed years of in-depth research and international benchmarks to significantly evolve the City’s understanding of the current gaps, barriers and failures that are preventing the increase of cultural space. By testing these findings with the local sector and different internal stakeholders, we developed a better understanding of these challenges, and begun identifying suitable policy levers, critical benchmark case studies, and expert advisors that can help shape solutions for the City to consider implementing. 

As of mid 2019, the outcomes from this body of work are still evolving internally, however this study has provided a critical evidence base for input into the City’s Sydney 2050 strategy, as well as other strategic planning documents, demonstrating Council’s clear commitment to protecting, nurturing and growing the provision of cultural infrastructure. The eventual goal of this scope of work will be to develop a Cultural Infrastructure Strategy for the City of Sydney, putting the Council’s commitment into an actionable set of objectives.