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Here’s what Sydney's new nightlife panel decided at their first official meeting

members of Sydney's Nightlife and Creative Sector Advisory Panel sat in a laneway in the city
Photograph: Katherine Griffiths Members of Sydney's Nightlife and Creative Sector Advisory Panel

Changing the way we think about Sydney’s nightlife is the first step to fixing it, says the City of Sydney’s new co-chair of the recently appointed Nightlife and Creative Sector Advisory Panel. Last night at their first council meeting, Sydney Fringe CEO and festival director Kerri Glasscock was elected as co-chair alongside councillor Jess Scully. The panel’s 15 members have identified their top priorities for supporting sustainable development of Sydney’s nightlife. The first, says Glasscock, is changing the narrative.

“We’ve identified a few key areas that we’re going to focus on straight away,” says the Venue 505 founder speaking to Time Out this morning. “The first one for us is about changing the narrative as much as we can. I think we’ve been caught up a lot in a very negative spin on what’s going on in our city – and it’s valid, and it’s true – we are feeling the effects of a hard five-to-ten years, but there’s so much more to that.

“For us, it’s about identifying the positive activity that is still taking place and encouraging people to get back out on the streets. What’s most important at the moment is that we don’t lose any more spaces and venues and that we encourage audiences to go out and see the great work of our local artists – despite the headlines.”

Glasscock and cllr Scully head-up a panel of key spokespeople from a variety of sectors that operate within the broader scope of the night-time economy. In addition to changing the way we think about nightlife in the city, they’ve noted four more priorities to focus on: reducing regulation, promoting collaboration between state and local government, delivering flexible buildings to enable more creativity, and to advocate for 24-hour public transport.

Kerri Glasscock (left) and cllr Jess Scully (right)


(L-R): Kerri Glasscock and cllr Jess Scully, co-chairs of the nightlife panel
Photograph: City of Sydney



“There’s a huge ecosystem that goes along with evening economy,” says Glasscock. At the moment we’re looking to feed into the planning teams on the DCP review and the An Open and Creative City papers – and those are very, very dense papers. We are an over-regulated sector. The City of Sydney can only go so far in amending what they need to in order to help the sector to thrive – some of it needs to have to come from state government, so encouraging collaboration between local and state is a big focus for us.

“We know we’re at crisis point and we know that our sector and nighttime is suffering, but we need to channel our energy in a positive way; to go out, to see shows, to see spaces, to eat in great restaurants, you know, to have a drink and get your friends off the couch and away from Netflix because really we need a critical mass of people out and about in the city.”

The panel’s input into An Open and Creative City paper and the Development Control Plan (DCP) was discussed along with feedback from more than 10,000 people in the community. The proposed reforms include later trading hours for shops and encouraging more small-scale cultural activity at night.

“What is really important about this opportunity, which we don’t usually get as a sector, is that we’re sitting in a room with the people who actually write policy. Hopefully the time is now to make some serious changes so we can have a booming, healthy nighttime in this city.”

Speaking of getting out and enjoying your city, here are 9 cheap hacks for seeing art and culture in Sydney this winter