Words about cities are not enough
Industry applauds Minister for Cities and the Built Environment 

In his thought-provoking deservedly crowd-funded book, Creative Cities, Marcus Westbury argues that “cultural planning needs to think less in terms of hard infrastructure and subsidised companies and much more in terms of fluid communities and constantly changing opportunities. … cities need to involve their people in making and remaking their own mythology and create something that is truly unique.”

For him it was negotiating use of derelict buildings, getting councils on side and providing spaces for talented, imaginative, passionate people to make, craft and sell their wares at markets, their own studios and increasingly online.  Called Renew Newcastle, the urban regeneration has spread to many other cities and not just the centres (Leichhardt in Sydney’s inner-west is just one example).

We need to “allow our cities to be platforms for ideas that might not work in order to discover ideas that do”, he writes.

Risk taking and regarding failures as experiences from which to learn is a well-publicised core belief of many an entrepreneur. It fits in with the thrust towards innovation and creativity on a large-scale as presaged by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s statement, “Liveable, vibrant cities are absolutely critical to our prosperity” (see also Words about cities are not enough).

Certainly there was plenty of resilience, perseverance and dynamism on show with the variegated designer, artist, publisher, social entrepreneur, jeweller, promoter, event organiser, panel members at Curvy Creative, held at aMBUSH Gallery Central Park, one of a number of talks, exhibitions held over the last few weeks that opened minds to new ideas, new creators and at venues in the throbbing heart of the city..  

Batch: Creative Practice, Enterprise and Limited Run Production, at Gaffa Gallery, showcased the work of seven Australian-based designer makers, with their small batch produced objects, taking advantage of new technology and techniques such as 3D printing. They mix fabric and metal and other materials into distorted shapes that still do their job as trays and bowls and other containers.

At the same time as Sydney Contemporary Art Fair (and deliberately so) the Other Art Fair (OAF) was held for the first time in Sydney (it is better known in London) as a platform for emerging artists to exhibit their work to seasoned and new buyers and general Central Park shoppers. The artists were there to answer questions and bring extra life to their work.

Both art fairs were busy and interactive and pointed the way to complementary, creative events (it helped that they were at venues relatively close to each other). As OAF hoped it capitalised on the audience at the bigger fair. Long may such thinking continue.

Deborah Singerman runs her own writing, editing, proofing and project managing consultancy specialising in the urban built environment and community.  @deborahsingerma