From the iconic Opera House, NSW Art Gallery and Théâtre Royal to the plethora of galleries, performance spaces and live music venues that fill the suburbs, Sydney has an arts and culture industry that would rival any global city. While under Covid restrictions these spaces and places have been left only with the echoes of the cheers and applause from crowds’ past, from this darkness a bright new horizon is rising.
The creativity of the many talented visual artists, performers, directors, curators, musicians, and entertainment entrepreneurs has been a showcase of opportunities to explore and capitalise on new and innovative ways of engaging audiences, producing material, and doing the business.
From the NSW Art Gallery creating integrated art and music videos, using social media to conduct tours and engage with artists off-site, to virtual theatre productions and lessons the accessibility of the arts has reached unprecedented levels especially in regional and remote areas now better served through fast speed internet.
The NSW Government’s recently announced ‘Festival of Place’ will likewise bring art to the people including through a series of street performers, buskers, sidewalk artists that shift and resize performances from the grandness conventional theatre and stage backgrounds to the urban environment creating content for smaller more intimate audiences in public open spaces. Breaking the mold performances will be looking to be more mobile and agile, be stretched to appeal across age, socioeconomic and cultural differences, as well as accessible via pay per view rather than by subscription.
The synergies between the creativity of arts and innovation and entrepreneurship are well known making this moment a critical juncture to integrate the talents of both to rebuild a covid safe economy. The new knowledge hubs being designed and developed in Sydney including at Tech Central and Pyrmont Peninsular will benefit from attracting and assimilating talent from across the art to foster a sustainable, thriving innovation ecosystem.
Recent Covid challenges have also driven greater collaboration between the arts, business, and Government, with Governments at all levels highlighting the economic, mental health and social cohesion benefits of the arts industry. Federal funding borne out of Covid is helping to get new shows and other artistic productions off the ground and the NSW Government and City of Sydney are investing in the sector to revitalize the CBD and through arts and performance build the night time economy over summer.
Not only does the arts add economic value to the city but the inherent values of the industry – creativity, collaboration and social cohesion – can add economic value to businesses as they seek to recovery and reshape in a covid safe economy. As businesses looking for new ways to adapt, attract talent and acquire customers can leverage these values to drive new ways of doing things, form previously unthought of partnerships, and use arts and culture to support the increased focus on employee health and wellbeing.
At the national level arts not only fuels the Australian culture and social fabric, it generated jobs. From big budget films to streaming services productions, performances, exhibitions and experiences create and sustain employment in a diverse array of fields including lighting technicians, venue operators, food and beverage suppliers, and travel and accommodation, stage and set construction, animation and costume design.
Wrapping up – the value and the values of arts and culture foster our economy, embracing the talent, icons, institutions and approach of the industry has the potential to be our lifeblood for recovering and rebuilding our economy.
Sydney Business Chamber held an online forum with The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for the Arts, Leigh Small, Chief Executive Officer Sydney Film Festival and Este on Darin-Cooper, State Manager NSW & ACT, Creative Partnerships Australia on 16 October 2020.
This forum is the final episode in our Arts and Culture Series. You can view episodes here.