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Sydney risks losing its creative sector, as artists, musicians and performers are priced out of the city.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore warned the city would turn into a “dead place to be” if its “creative spirits” could not afford places to live and work in the inner city.
The City of Sydney’s Creative Studios offers five storeys of subsidised space for artists, musicians and performers in Sydney’s CBD.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone
Speaking at the opening of the City of Sydney Creative Studios on Bathurst Street, Moore said the supply of affordable spaces such as studios, workshops, warehouses and accommodation had plummeted because of rising property prices and the transformation of industrial areas.
“Even before the pandemic, we could see our creative sector being steadily priced out, which was leaching so much life out of our city,” she said.
“COVID only exacerbated their difficulties, with the sector missing out on the financial support given to other areas of the economy.”
Moore said subsidised creative workspaces was crucial to Sydney developing a reputation for its cultural offerings.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, pictured with artist Neil McCann, said the city would turn into a “dead place” if its “creative spirits” could not afford to live and work in the inner city.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone
“Sydney’s rising property prices, the transformation of former industrial areas and the ongoing impacts of the pandemic have really hurt our cultural life,” Moore said.
The $25 million creative studios are housed in the 237-metre Greenland Centre – one of the tallest apartment towers in Sydney – on Bathurst Street.
The five-storey arts rehearsal and production centre features 30 spaces including recording and editing suites, visual art studios, workshops, screening rooms as well as an artist-in-residence apartment and cafe.
A voluntary planning agreement between the council and developer gave the city a 99-year lease over the 2000 square-metre facility for a peppercorn rent, which allowed it to offer low-cost space for artists and musicians.
Artist Neil McCann said affordable studio space allowed him to sustain his practice as a painter, animator and performer.
“I don’t know anyone that would be able to afford to live and work in the CBD,” he said. “But having affordable places to rent and venues that sustain art practices are essential to drive artistic life back into the city.”
Moore said the creative sector was the second-largest and fastest-growing industry in the council area: “We support arts and culture not only because they attract millions of visitors a year, but because they are so important to the life of our city.”
The Creative Studios will be managed by not-for-profit arts group Brand X Productions for the next three years.
Brand X director James Winter said providing affordable and accessible space in the CBD would have a positive impact on creative workers.
“This will mean those who were priced out of space to develop their craft will suddenly be given a chance to amplify their voice through the use of quality equipment and infrastructure,” he said.
“This diversity is important to us as it encourages curiosity in anyone who engages with the spaces, whether they are a casual hirer, working on a project for a month or a tenant working on the space from nine-to-five for the next 12 months,” he said.
Winter said he hoped a “Sydney style of doing things” will emerge from the creative studios.
The cost of hiring space starts at $17 per hour and will “scale up according to the project’s commercial intent”, he said. “It’s a system where those who can afford are subsidising those who can’t.”
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