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5 minutes with … Justine Baker

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

Justine Baker 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.

Justine is CEO of the Solotel Group, which employs 2,000 staff across 32 venues, including Aria at Circular Quay, the Clock Hotel in Surry Hills and the Marlborough Hotel in Newtown.

Why did you originally get involved in Sydney’s nightlife and creative sectors?

I’ve worked in the hospitality industry most of my adult life. I’ve always loved the difference between the expected rhythms of the day and the excitement and sense of the unexpected at night.

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

Sydney has had a wonderful history of vibrant nightlife, with a true sense of surprise and freedom. Our current regulation has long stymied this at a large scale, but now we can see it at a smaller level.

I have always loved the electronic music scene in particular – it’s added so much value to our bar, club and pub scene, and it has been a platform that truly gives younger audiences a chance to connect.

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

Balancing the needs of all stakeholders and unifying the voices to a common vision. It’s hard to deny Sydney’s nightlife has been damaged by overregulation and reactive policies by government, but now is the time to stand up and be heard.

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

I believe the panel can play a leading role in linking the night-time industries to government policy to create real and lasting change.

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

I want Sydney to be a 24-hour city, with diverse and creative industries working together to create a dynamic, vibrant and thriving global city for all ages.

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