The NSW Government and City of Sydney have announced up to $20m in joint funding to boost the city centre economy, support businesses and create jobs across the vital summer period.
The state government will commit up to $15m and the City will provide a further $5m towards a range of initiatives to encourage more people to visit, eat, shop and enjoy the city centre.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City and state government are delivering a clear and safe plan for activating the city through summer.
“The physical distancing measures required to save lives and prevent another devastating outbreak of Covid-19 are continuing to impact the livelihoods of many in our community,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“This is especially true in Sydney’s CBD, as many continue to work from home. We need to allow and encourage businesses to operate outdoors, and we need to support our creative and cultural life to activate and draw people back to our city, safely.
“It is important that we move quickly to deliver a clear plan for activating the city through summer. The City and the state government are working together to transform Sydney into a 24-hour alfresco city over summer and beyond.
“We will set up outdoor performance stages in key city locations, fund live music and performance in venues, bars and restaurants, and deliver a summer of outdoor dining. We will breathe life back into our city centre while ensuring the safety of residents, workers and visitors.
“This will help our city businesses survive in the short-term, and create new opportunities to thrive in the long-term.”
The City’s plan for a 24-hour alfresco city comprises:
Transforming the city into an outdoor summer cultural experience
Creating an outdoor summer cultural experience featuring orchestra and theatre performances, live bands and festival activities.
Funding live music and performance in venues, bars, restaurants and outdoors, as well as public art in laneways across central Sydney
Relaunching Sydney’s live music scene and creating a festival of live music and public art over several months through a City of Sydney grants program.
Creating a summer of alfresco dining
Continuing to waive fees associated with outdoor dining until 31 October 2021 to encourage businesses and creatives to bring their businesses and art to the streets. The project will temporarily reclaim spaces for outdoor dining in specific locations. It will kick off from December 2020.
Keeping Sydney’s cultural organisations open into the evenings
Providing opportunities for visitors and residents to see exhibitions, programs and events into the evenings at Sydney’s major cultural institutions.
Working with Destination NSW to promote this activity to Sydney and interstate visitors
Promoting the city as a domestic destination to Sydneysiders, inviting them to explore the main streets, cultural offerings and nightlife. The City will also continue its successful #sydneylocal campaign to promote the tourism, retail and hospitality businesses in the city centre and villages.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the funding would provide vital jobs over the summer season.
“The pandemic forced the CBD into a Covid hibernation and it’s vital we revive our use of the city for work and pleasure, to keep people in jobs and businesses in business,” Mr Perrottet said.
“This summer will be a testing time for many businesses but this funding will help breathe life back into the city and get our economy moving again.”
Co-artistic director, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Amylia Harris supported the initiative to activate outdoor spaces over the summer.
“Like every arts organisation in NSW, the Darlinghurst Theatre Company was devastated by the impact of Covid-19 on live performance venues,” Ms Harris said.
“The past seven months have been an absolute fight for survival for the arts, and we are grateful for the support of City of Sydney as we work to adapt our business model and find our place in a post-lockdown world. We wholeheartedly support a City and state government initiative to revitalise Sydney over summer.
“Activation of outdoor spaces for dining and entertainment are key to our plans to get artists back on stage and revive our venue to a vibrant, shared space for the community.”
Tom Hespe, co-owner, Grand Days in Woolloomooloo commended the state government and the City of Sydney for their bi-partisan approach to supporting businesses and the local economy.
"Like all bricks and mortar retail businesses in and around the city, Grand Days has felt the impact of Covid; there are simply less people around,” Mr Hespe said.
“We are fortunate to have a loyal and supportive local customer base and have pivoted towards incorporating online sales into our business but are still feeling the pinch of a quieter CBD with no tourism and people working from home.
“I am hopeful that the proposed changes will allow us to do what we do best, that is work hard to help foster the unique identity that makes Sydney such an amazing place and bring some life back into summer and beyond."
The cutting of red tape will ensure:
- no need for pubs and small bars, as well as bars or food and drink premises connected to theatres and cultural venues to apply for a development application to undertake outdoor dining
- an automatic extension of existing liquor licences for areas approved for outdoor dining
- provisions to reward well-run venues and penalties for poorly run venues.
The City will also work with businesses to ensure they comply with Covid-19 safety and physical distancing measures as well as pedestrian accessibility and adequate fire safety exits for buildings.