Key takeaways from NSW Governments ’24-hour Economy Strategy’

The state government has consulted with a number of stakeholders, including Sydney City Council, MusicNSW and industry to prepare and release a ’24-hour Economy Strategy’. The strategy appears to be an ‘ideal’ roadmap for the future of Sydney and NSW including some overdue love for our rather fledgling nightlife.

The strategy follows amongst other things, the recent removal of the archaic lock-out laws that devastated the nightlife some 6 years ago and the announcement of Nighttime Commissioner Michael Rodrigues. On the surface, these are all constructive steps leading towards a more positive city with the potential for being a global destination (once again).

As always though, there needs to be a solid foundation to build off and rolling back this and appointing that just won’t cut it for longevity and respect for the nightlife. Thankfully the report addresses some essential stuff that creates the base of which to build, curate and foster a proper nightlife and on the flip give direction to the people that exist within it.

Now, onto the report…

Those diving into the raw strategy will find themselves presented with a little over 75 pages of comprehensive details on the various layers of what makes a 24-hour city. It touches on purpose, insights, a framework and even a way to measure success interestingly.

The core of it looks to create and support an expected 234,000+ jobs and $16b in taxable revenue for the state government, confirmed by big accounting firm Deloitte some years ago.

For those time-strapped, we’ve taken the steps of summarising into real talk ‘the summary’ that NSW Government says they will be doing to pave the way for a vibrant 24-hour economy.

Integrated planning & place-making

What the strategy says;

  • Appoint a Coordinator General for Greater Sydney’s 24-hour Economy
  • Establish a ‘Neon Grid’ across Greater Sydney to create single view of existing and potential 24-hour hubs
  • Initiate a city-wide night-time hub certification program
  • Establish 24-hour Economy Acceleration Program for Councils
  • Streamline safety and inspection measures within night-time hubs
  • Expand community and industry-led safety programs
  • Develop and incentivise participation in precinct-based streetscape atmospheres and activations
  • Enable and support the variable use of under-utilised public and private spaces and buildings to accommodate small-scale live performance, arts and culture events
  • Identify and preserve places of historic and cultural significance

What we say;

This is all pretty straight forward. Create and promote 24-hour hubs, let people know about them, encourage use and include the community. One of the biggest takeaways for us would be incentivising people into ‘streetscape atmospheres and activations’ as this gets casual users back out again and realising the fun they can have fun at night. Helps change the perception of nightlife away from the debauchery commonly depicted in the media etc.

The other is preserving ‘places of historic and cultural significance. While vague we hope this means protection for existing entertainment venues and stop them from being redeveloped into residential/commercial spaces.

Diversification of night-time activities

What the strategy says;

  • Provide Councils with tools and resources to support better activity mix planning in their 24-hour Economy hubs
  • Support and encourage businesses to diversify
  • Extend opening hours across low impact retail businesses
  • Further streamline liquor licensing to support venues
  • Review live music and noise regulations to maintain opportunities for venues and musicians
  • Simplify requirements and improve affordability for creating pop-ups and cultural events
  • Relaxation of restrictions for food trucks and other types of pop-up activations
  • Simplify requirements for creating cultural events in public spaces
  • Extend and promote opening hours across major cultural institutions
  • Support globally significant events (home-grown and international)
  • Activate major sporting precincts with inclusive before and after activities

What we say;

Lots of good stuff in here, more aimed at promoters (putting on events), business owners and the ‘art’ and food side of things. The aim is to streamline what it takes to put on events or events/activations. What we like seeing is a review of live music and noise regulations for venues and musicians. This has been the thorn in the side for everyone involved and led to the destruction of significant venues and spaces over the years. Also, relaxation of laws around ‘food trucks’ and ‘pop ups’ is cool, in theory, it means activating any kind of spot.

Industry & cultural development

What the strategy says;

  • Develop nuanced sub-sector playbooks
  • Establish ongoing business engagement forums
  • Ensure affordable spaces for creative industries
  • Embed the activation of 24-hour economy activity in the design of new NSW Government precincts
  • Retain and incubate talent in Sydney’s night-time industries

What we say;

This looks to the long-form stuff to get some longevity within the nightlife. Includes on-going consultation with businesses, creating affordable spaces for creative industries and retain talent. Would be good to include a specific note about the NSW Police in here so there is an open line between all stakeholders. All well and good if industry and government are chatting but NSW Police enforce it all and can still shut down things at the drop of a hat.

Mobility & improved connectivity

What the strategy says;

  • Extend late-night transport choice and safety
  • Develop a mobility plan to make it easier to travel between 24-hour economy hubs
  • Implement enhanced parking options for night-time hubs
  • Ensure safe options for end-of-trip connections for workers and consumers of the night-time economy
  • Initiate an arts program to activate transport links

What we say;

Late night transport is a must! Better still is a plan within the broader transport options for connectivity between specific hubs which is great. Like the idea of arts to make transport a bit more fun ie music curation and interactive stuff so you’re always engaged.

Changing the narrative

What the strategy says;

  • Activate local marketing and promotion of night-time industries via the Neon Grid
  • Re-establish a unifying vision of Sydney as a vibrant global cultural destination
  • Re-align public perception of health, safety and wellbeing within night-time hubs
  • Develop distinct branding for key night-time hubs to communicate the unique value proposition of each
  • Make the Neon Grid a digital, centralised information platform for all of Greater Sydney’s 24-hour hubs

What we say;

This is a biggie. You can create the spaces, remove noise restrictions, work with industry but if people don’t turn up… what’s the point? So how is the Gov addressing it? Some clear plans to market/promote night-time industries, a broader, single image of Sydney and remind people they’ll be safe doing so. Interestingly enough there for be an ‘information platform’ to highlight what’s going on. Think the industry (promoters) have a good chance to mould some of this with the direction of their events and creating really enjoyable nights that people want to speak about.

Overall, it’s encouraging to see both a macro and micro look at things with the ’24-hour Economy Strategy’ and we hope there are proper funding opportunities and clear direction given so the creatives of this city can do what they do best!

It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out and what can be achievable but again, definitely heading in the right direction knowing how much talent is bubbling beneath the surface and waiting to pop.

Now, what’s the timeline looking like for this plan to come to life NSW Government?