Funding to help city precincts recover from the pandemic and buzz like never before

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A farmer’s market at Circular Quay, street festivals with food, wine and music, and a celebration of all things Redfern are just some of the exciting events set to take place across the city over the next 12 months.

The City of Sydney has approved 14 grants worth $3 million in cash and $700,000 in revenue foregone/value-in-kind as part of its new Precinct Activation Grants program.

The grant program is funding collaborations between neighbouring businesses and creatives – to revitalise Sydney’s city centre and villages and activate new micro-precincts.

“The past two years have been incredibly challenging for all of us, particularly our city centre as venues were capped, people began working from home and domestic and international travel ground to a halt,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“But we’re starting to see the city buzz once again, and our new precinct activation program will help drive that recovery further.

“This innovative grant program was designed to encourage businesses, creatives and communities to collaborate and bring cultural activity to precincts and local neighbourhoods.

“That means we’ll not only see great events taking place right across the city, we’ll also see neighbouring businesses and communities working together, building relationships and capacity to ensure such events and collaboration continue long term.

“From Circular Quay to Surry Hills, Redfern to Haymarket, we have so many wonderful events in the works that will give you a chance to support local businesses and rediscover all the city has to offer.”

Projects will take place from 1 June 2022 to 30 June 2023, with successful applicants required to have a project lead plus a minimum of five collaborators located near each other.

More than 40 organisations and businesses applied for the grants, after the program was given the go ahead in February this year, with 14 approved for funding of between $100,000 and $300,000 per project.

Fees for outdoor events, power access, venue hire or other applicable service and event hire will also be waived for projects supported under the program until 30 June 2023.

The grants were developed in consultation with key stakeholders including the Nightlife and Creative Sector Advisory Panel, local business chambers, industry associations and the public, and align with the City of Sydney’s overarching community recovery plan.

Following public exhibition, Council last month endorsed new guidelines for the precinct activation grants to focus on projects that promote place-based activations, strengthen local precincts, seed micro-precincts and regenerate Sydney’s 24-hour economy.

One project approved for funding is The Hollywood Precinct organised by the Darlinghurst Business Partnership.

The 6-week program will activate the developing micro precinct around Commonwealth Street in Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, and bring together local bars and restaurants to feature art, live music and culture.

“The activation grant program is such a good idea,” said Lorraine Lock, Darlinghurst Business Partnership.

“It’s a win for businesses who have done it so tough through the pandemic and it’s a win for the community who are looking for ways to get out and have a good time once more!

“This corner of Surry Hills has some of Sydney’s best bars, cafes and restaurants. But they don’t need to compete against each other to create a great vibe and be successful. By working together to create a coherent precinct we are creating interest in the whole area, attracting visitors and generating business for everyone.”

At the other end of the city, a 2-month activation has been approved for in and around Chinatown. Organised by Haymarket HQ in collaboration with Soul of Chinatown, Basalt Studio, Bespok3 and the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce, Neon Playground by Chinatown is an immersive celebration of arts, lights, music and community. The activation will feature contemporary artists and cutting-edge light installations including illuminated precinct gates and contoured buildings.

"We envisage Neon Playground as an exciting opportunity to revitalise one of Sydney's most loved precincts,” Andrea Plawutsky, Neon Playground Project Manager said.

“Our project seeks to highlight Chinatown's 'cool' and draw people back throughout the spring months.

'This is a collaborative effort and an important opportunity to engage the businesses, artists and broad community and to connect with their memories and love of Chinatown."

Kevin Cheng, Soul of Chinatown, added: "Sydney’s Chinatown community is passionate to see the revival of the historic precinct, and activations like Neon Playground will continue to shine the spotlight on the area and bring it to life through art and culture.”

The 14 successful projects are:

  • Redfern Street Party – A celebration of all things Redfern including a community engagement program, festival and month-long exhibition program - $288,172
  • Art in the Heart of Haymarket – Combining the contemporary and traditional Asian cultures of Chinatown, this public art activation in Haymarket will unite the community and audiences - $300,000 and $3,132 value-in-kind
  • The Hollywood Precinct – A 6-week activation in Darlinghurst and Surry Hills involving local bars and restaurants to showcase art, music and culture - $292,000
  • Secrets on Stanley Street – Stanley Street in Darlinghurst will host a festival of food, drinks and music over six weekends - $100,000
  • Quay Quarter Live – Monthly growers and producers markets at Circular Quay and quarterly art and music events, including digital art and light installations throughout the year - $294,905 and $6,400 value-in-kind
  • Kensington Street Festival – A festival activating Kensington Street in Chippendale with cultural and creative programming to coincide with Sydney Festival - $100,000
  • Neon Playground by Chinatown – A 2-month activation featuring contemporary art, light installations and music - $300,000 and $2,900 value-in-kind
  • Sound Out the Street – Six months of Friday night programming of music, sound installations and workshops in Erskineville, culminating with a 3-day festival - $299,300 and $5,068 value-in-kind
  • Dark Day Dark Night @ South Eveleigh – A festival of fire centred around the Locomotive Workshop in South Eveleigh, showcasing food, wine, and Indigenous dance groups - $100,000
  • Surry Hills Play Festival – A festival anchored on ‘play’, led by creatives incorporating workshops, kids’ days and competitions to encourage the community to the precinct - $299,990
  • 100 Reasons to Come to Tech Central – A series of events, over seven months, around Haymarket, Chippendale, Surry Hills and Broadway to promote and support local tech businesses - $100,000
  • Surry Hills on a Plate – A 6-week festival in Surry Hills showcasing hospitality businesses in the area including pubs, restaurants and music venues - $125,633
  • Step Into Summer – A York Clarence Kent (YCK) Laneways festival over four weeks to encourage visitors to the precinct, plus the development of a digital platform incorporating an augmented reality experience - $300,000
  • Walsh Bay Arts Precinct – An open day in the newly formed Walsh Bay Arts precinct to celebrate the area, raise awareness and attract new audiences - $100,000.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City’s work to help businesses and community survive the pandemic has transitioned to helping bounce back and thrive anew.

“Almost as soon as Covid lockdowns were introduced, the doomsayers were predicting the death of the city, but I’m hopeful this has been overstated,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Sydney is now reopening with consumer confidence indices higher than average, suggesting a strong, pent-up demand, especially in services and hospitality.

“We are working to draw people back to the city and creating spaces for businesses to operate safely – to breathe life into our CBD and see it buzz once more. Through concerts, performances and events, grants to help businesses collaborate and enliven their precincts and more than 400 new al fresco dining spaces, we’re helping our city bounce back post-pandemic.

“We’re not entirely out of the woods yet, but it’s wonderful to see life returning to the city and people rediscovering all the CBD has to offer – whether that’s the benefits that come from working alongside colleagues or catching up with friends for dinner, drinks, or to experience brilliant new inner city precincts!”

Find more details on the City of Sydney’s Precinct Activation Program.

Media contact Elaine Kelly. Phone 0477 362 550 or email ekelly@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Paul Mackay. Phone 0436 816 604 or email pmackay@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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