5 minutes with … Emily Collins

Emily shares her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing Sydney’s nightlife.

Emily Collins is a member of the City of Sydney’s new Nightlife and Creative Sector Advisory Panel. The panel was set up earlier this year to provide advice about supporting a thriving, diverse and safe nightlife.

Emily is the managing director of Music NSW, the state’s peak body for contemporary music. She is also on the boards of Music NSW and the Australian Music Industry Network, a member of the National Live Music Awards Board and sits on a number of advisory committees and working groups.

When, how and why did you originally get involved in Sydney’s nightlife and creative sectors?

I’ve loved going out in Sydney since I first moved here from the NT in 2002. At that time, it was just as a lover of music, theatre, art and performance. But a few years later I started a band and we went from playing open mic nights to selling out The Basement (RIP).

Through playing a lot of gigs in Sydney I got to meet such an incredible network of creative people working on amazing things. Thinking up crazy ideas, making great work, putting on festivals and dreaming up inspiring collaborations. I guess that’s really what made me fall in love with Sydney properly – finding my very own creative community. Fast forward a few years and now I’m passionate about making sure those communities continue to thrive, as they bring so much joy to people.

What do you love most about Sydney’s nightlife and creative scene?

The thing I love most about Sydney’s nightlife and creative scene is that it’s so big, you’ll always miss something. Sometimes it can make you feel like you’re either missing everything, or there’s nothing going on because it’s not directly in front of you. But in a city with this many people, rest assured there’s always something incredible happening, it’s just a matter of discovering it. I love that element of discovery in a city – it makes it an exciting place to live.

What do you see as the major challenges facing these sectors at the moment?

We all know regulation is a challenge and we’re working hard to make sure our creative communities continue to thrive. But I also think that we’re in an interesting phase of the digital disruption for real life communities everywhere. With so much focus being put on platforms that make it incredibly easy to stay home (food delivery services, streaming on demand) we really need to explore ways for people to stay connected with their fellow city inhabitants.

I think the creative and cultural sectors have a huge role to play in bringing people together and showing us who we are, and are crucial to a thriving 24-hour economy.

What role do you think the advisory panel can play in meeting these challenges?

I think it’s a really amazing opportunity to get some great minds in a room to aid the City of Sydney with the fantastic work it’s already doing. The City is a huge supporter of creative and cultural communities in Sydney. So really it’s about helping out wherever we can to ensure the development of exciting, sustainable and innovative measures for Sydney’s nightlife and creative sectors.

What is your vision for Sydney’s nightlife and creative scene in 5 years time?

My hope is that in 5 years, when I go out to see a band with friends, I won’t get stuck in another conversation about regulation or funding. Instead, we’ll talk about the great bands we’ve seen this week, the amazing pasta my friend ate at midnight after finishing her nursing shift, or how great it is that my friend’s grandma just went out dancing for the first time in years. Nightlife and creativity isn’t just about partying, it’s about living full and happy lives. Art, culture, being out and about after work – that’s what makes a city really feel like home.

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