NSW Government’s inaugural 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, Michael Rodrigues views the night time economy as an opportunity for Sydney to be a global leader.
At the closing event at March’s Global Cities After Dark conference, he said: “Because of the way NSW, in particular, has managed the pandemic, we are going to be the focus of the world. This wasn’t the case before the pandemic. It is now.
“We’re so used to looking overseas for solutions – looking to what’s happening in London or New York. Now it’s like, ‘Well, you’re the first ones out of this pandemic; you tell us how to do it.’
“It represents a big opportunity. Now is the time to grab that opportunity and think, what does ‘local’ mean, and is a focus on local going to be a core part of how economies come out of the pandemic?”
Recognising the value of the 24-Hour Economy today means that State and local governments and businesses are working together like never before. It is vital to reviving local economies, supporting local businesses, our resident artists and performers as we emerge from the pandemic.
This relatively new recognition of ‘night time governance’ aligns with international trends. Mirik Milan, VibeLab and Former Amsterdam Night Mayor also spoke at the conference. He said: “This is really a moment in time. Michael Rodrigues is joining a team of more than 50 night mayors and night commissioners all over the world. Nighttime governance is an emerging but fast growing policy field, we’re only in the beginning and it’s really about collaboration, and earning everyone’s trust.”
As part of the week-long Global Cities After Dark conference, local government and industry stakeholders from hospitality, music, entertainment, major events, tourism and transport came together for the first time since the start of the pandemic to collaboratively workshop ideas and plan to future-proof the 24-Hour economy.
For a vibrant, thriving and economically viable night-time economy, there was consensus that Sydney must play host to and facilitate creative and extraordinary experiences worth leaving the house for, all year round and right across Sydney, not just limited to the CBD.
Keynote speaker from the US, Vince Kadlubek, founder and director of Meow Wolf made the point: “The entirety of the night-time economy is inherently experiential.…And people want to spend money at night. If nobody’s out there spending money, no one will be investing in nightlife. All the money is in bed, wishing there was something to do.”
It is no small feat. The pathway to a thriving and profitable night time economy is an intricate web where events, tourism, hospitality, transport and health and safety must work in synergy and be supported by state and local government policies and funding.
A snapshot of what it looks like at the bare minimum: Sydney needs to make living and working here affordable for creatives, to protect live music and cultural spaces, to diversify the offering of night-time events beyond those hosted in pubs and nightclubs, and to implement a safe and reliable 24-hour transport system, especially for young people working in hospitality so they can travel safely to and from work.
As the night time economy opens up and the vaccinations roll out, let’s look to 2022 and beyond to a thriving economy that breathes life back into Sydney again.