October 20, 2017
Source: Daily Telegraph
Author: Jennifer Sexton
20 October , 2017
SYDNEY has been given a stark warning — scrap restrictive after-dark rules and develop a vibrant night-time economy or miss out.
San Francisco, often compared to Sydney geographically and culturally, demonstrates how hundreds of millions of dollars could be made if shops stayed open later and performance and cultural spaces were filled with people late into the night.
And Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor said Sydney was tying itself up in red tape.
“Even an Aboriginal dance troupe needs a DA. How ridiculous is that? It’s absurd,” Ms Macgregor said.
In Sydney just 21 per cent of spending occurs between 6pm and 6am compared with the US city’s 55 per cent overnight spending on everything from dry cleaning to hairdressing, museums and pubs, exclusive Mastercard data reveals.
The Daily Telegraph revealed this month the City of Sydney plans to boost the $3.64 billion generated every year at night across the CBD, Kings Cross, Glebe and Newtown.
The proposed changes would slash red tape and boost the city’s cultural offerings — all without small businesses such as cafes requiring permits.
New planning controls would mean retailers in established shopping strips and malls would automatically be allowed to open from 7am-10pm every day.
Cultural leaders have lauded the “brilliant” plan, but said more could be done to really open up the options at night.
“It’s brilliant and the biggest thing of all is red tape and bureaucracy,” Ms Macgregor said.
But she said the MCA is calling for the city to allow more concessions to encourage cultural pursuits such as impromptu performances on the museum’s Harbour-front lawn at Circular Quay.
The MCA is enjoying huge success with its monthly Friday night Artbar, selling 500-600 tickets to artistic performances and even lectures.
Adelaide and even Wollongong are already ahead of Sydney on allowing live music and performances to take place in non-residential areas without a permit.
But City of Sydney’s plan does not go that far, proposing that spaces without an entertainment licence can host only a small number of performances, and audience numbers would be strictly limited.
James Hulme, advocacy director at the Committee for Sydney, said Melbourne had a worse climate, but did things better at night.
“One of Sydney’s great advantages is the Mediterranean-style climate. But we don’t have Mediterranean-style night-time culture, with people dining out at 10 or 11 at night,” Mr Hulme said. “Melbourne has recognised that you need to have vibrant night-time activities to attract young creative, people to come and live in your city.”
Fringe Festival director Kerri Glasscock said getting approval to use empty spaces for the arts was very difficult.