Sydney's Plan To Boost Music Scene By Transforming Old Buildings Into Venues

22 March 2016 | 10:50 am | Staff Writer

"The creative sector is vital to Sydney’s future."

The City Of Sydney's push for more support of the city's creative scene has continued this week with plans to transform old buildings into venues that would cater as studios, workspaces, galleries, pop-up theatres and more.

In its New Ideas For Old Buildings discussion paper, the City Of Sydney is looking at avenues of how to reduce barriers that prevent these types of venues from being set up and how they can create a regulatory environment for Sydney's creative sector, while ensuring they remain safe and accessible for organisers and audiences.

Some of the ideas being discussed to achieve these goals include providing clearer assessment criteria to speed up development applications and pushing for changes in regards to state and federal environmental and planning laws. 

"Cities across Australia, and all over the world, are facing the challenge of adapting 20th century planning laws to today’s diverse creative scene," Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
"We need to develop smarter regulations that maintain high safety standards, but also provide clear and cost-effective ways to adapt older buildings to the needs of a contemporary creative city.
"The creative sector is vital to Sydney’s future. NSW is home to 40 per cent of Australia’s creative industries workforce, which contributes more than $1.4 billion to the state economy – and the bulk of this is in the City of Sydney area."
Moore went on to say that that discussion paper, which is open for feedback between now and 29 April, offers solutions to the issues Sydney's creative scene is facing.

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"What we need is for other levels of government, industry groups and the wider cultural community to contribute their own ideas on how we can work together to reduce the barriers facing the creative sector," Moore said. 

City Of Sydney live music taskforce member and urban geographer/planner Dr Kate Shaw said the proposal offers ways that Sydney can follow in the footsteps of global cities who have faced similar challenges.

"Internationally, we’re seeing artists moving into older buildings and giving them a new purpose – often, that’s the only way they can access affordable buildings," Shaw said. 

"We’ve seen places like Berlin and London changing their regulatory systems in response to that trend.
"In Australia, however, our building and planning systems make things incredibly difficult. In effect, turning an old warehouse or shopfront into a theatre or gallery draws you into the same regulatory pathways we use for a large nightclub or sports stadium.
"We need a regulatory system designed for small-scale cultural uses – not just bars or pop-up shops, but something that covers a much broader array of cultural activity."