Last week saw the launch of a new era for Sydney’s nightlife at a packed party at Fishburners in Sydney’s CBD, hosted by Investment NSW and emceed by comedian Matt Okine. Representatives from 24 Sydney districts – from Brookvale to Bondi and Blacktown – have just completed a five-week Uptown Accelerator program, in which they learnt everything from ‘district visioning’ to ‘place identity’, and how to submit grant applications and sponsorship proposals. At the event, a rep from each district used their new knowledge to give a two-minute rapid-fire pitch about their group’s vision for their area, in an effort to seek sponsorship and support from those in the audience.
The room was packed with more than 200 guests from businesses, including Campari, American Express, TikTok and Zip, as well as government stakeholders. Each guest was given a card, which they could mark to indicate which districts they’d like to start conversations with.
This was a pitching process – the next phase is all about getting seed funding to bring ideas to life. And what an incredible array of ideas there were.
The people who made up each of the district teams came from arts and cultural institutions, bars, restaurants, live music venues and family-focused organisations. The districts also varied in terms of how established they are – old haunts like Kings Cross spoke about seeking regeneration, while EDDY at Central Station presented their brand-new offerings that are bringing much-needed life and vibrancy to Central.
“Tonight is all about collaboration,” said Michael Rodrigues, NSW’s 24-hour Economy Commissioner, in his opening remarks. “When I took on this role 18 months ago, I talked about the creative-led recovery for Sydney. This is that recovery. We are blessed with a true ensemble cast and cultural leaders lifting our city to new heights globally.”
The inspiration for the program and the event was the new YCK Laneways precinct (around York, Clarence and Kent Streets). Time Out has been a proud supporter of YCK (and the 'city shaping' of Sydney, generally), because we're a big believer in the power of collaboration.
Brian Park, team leader for the Eastwood Korea District Team, who took to the stage wearing a blue sequin jacket and dark shades to riff ‘Gangnam Style’, sang the program’s praises: “We've learnt from A to Z how to make up our own story, develop an action plan, prepare proposals and contact potential sponsors. This is a starting point for our journey to the success.”
From a business perspective, the room was abundant with opportunities. Naysla Edwards from American Express – one of the potential sponsors – says, “I absolutely loved the energy, passion and commitment in the room to make our city more vibrant and community-centred, where we all support each other. That’s what we are looking for at American Express.”
After the pitches, it was a networking love-fest over drinks, to the sounds of DJ Sergiio.
“Tonight was freaking excellent,” summed up MC, comedian Matt Okine. “Everyone wants to see this city succeed.”
You can read short summaries of each participating district here. Want to know more? You can email email@example.com.