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News April 29, 2022

After Buoyant 12 Months, the NSW 24-Hour Economy Reveals New Initiatives

After Buoyant 12 Months, the NSW 24-Hour Economy Reveals New Initiatives

A new government report reveals huge strides were taken in the NSW 24-hour economy shows in the past 12 months.

The review looks at how the Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, fronted by Michael Rodrigues who began as inaugural commissioner in March 2021, has been successfully coordinating with the live sector, ministries, government bodies and local councils to bring the spark back.

Interestingly, the COVID pandemic – which up-ended much of the state’s 24-hour economy – now plays an instrumental role in its revival.

“The implementation of (the strategy) happened during the pandemic, it put a new lens on what we’re doing,” Rodrigues said.

In many instances it accelerated the change, he notes, citing flexible working situations, the decentralisation of the going-out experience, and greater awareness of suburban events.

“The pandemic has really focussed on the government growing the economy, and therefore the role of coordinating with key government departments had already started happening” he said.

A major boost has been the continual changing of the narrative.

The initial cynicism about the government delivering an effective 24-hour global destination, especially from music venues, seems to be disappearing as patrons return with greater exuberance than before.

Mark Gerber, who runs the Oxford Art Factory, for instance, recently told the Sydney Morning Herald,  that “we’ll see another revolution happening” in coming years.

The Office’s nighttime strategy is shaped around post-pandemic changes in audiences.

Statistics show 78% want nighttime activities that don’t centre around alcohol, and 48% of the 18—29 demographic prefers to socialise online.

The Office team is based right in the premier’s office, giving it a prime position to coordinate activities and be at the heart of initiatives.

Among them are the $50 million CBDs Revitalisation Program, which covers industries such as hospitality, culture and tourism.

The Department of Planning and Environment’s Smart Places Acceleration Program collates and shares real-time data such as venue capacities, transport options and event information.

The report notes, “As a government, we have worked in lockstep with the sector to provide financial and logistical support, including the Event Saver Fund, Dine & Discover vouchers, free NSW TAFE hospitality training courses.”

The Office played a key coordinating role in the delivery of a $66-million package to promote alfresco dining in NSW and free up red tape.

More pop-up venues are being trialled in new locations to add to diverse activity through a new Fun SEPP (State Environment Planning Policy.

It supports the Take Kare Safe Space assistance program, and actively participates in the Women’s Safety Charter to make Sydney a more secure city for women and girls.

Connected smart technology includes re-purposing parking zones for rideshare pickup or drop-off and noise and waste reduction services.

NSW 24-hour economy

Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, Michael Rodrigues

Rodrigues cites as close cooperation between different authorities when the March 17 Airfields Festival were moved from waterlogged Victoria Park to the Entertainment Quarter in ten days.

At that time, the government approved a change in planning regulations; and police, health and public transport advised allowing for a move of 12,000 punters to be moved without an issue.

“This is what we want to see, a new benchmark that NSW can support the going-out economy.”

Launching this year is a Purple Flag model where special entertainment hubs with assets as, say, best lighting and public transport are given certifications to advice the public.

Based on the ‘safe flag’ system on beaches, it is used in the U.K. and Sweden.

Also in the pipeline is the full roll-out of the $5-million district acceleration program UpTown where local businesses and other organisations unitedly provide a range of entertainment offerings for residents and visitors.

“We don’t see going out as a Big Night Out,” Rodrigues said. “It’s going out for a meal, spend time with friends, going or a walk, it isn’t necessarily about alcoholic consumption.

“It’s a breeze that’s blowing in the right direction.”

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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