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Arts Culture and Events as a key placemaking strategy
 

Arts Culture and Events as a key placemaking strategy

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A Casestudy of my work at Sydney Olympic Park, focusing on the role that Arts Culture and Events programs I created played in the overall place-making effort of revitalising a key urban brownfields ...

A Casestudy of my work at Sydney Olympic Park, focusing on the role that Arts Culture and Events programs I created played in the overall place-making effort of revitalising a key urban brownfields site

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    Arts, Culture & Events as a key Placemaking Strategy

    Scott O’Hara (BA MBus)
    Manager, Sutherland Entertainment Centre

    Introduction
    My grandfather, Merve, turned 94 this week. He reminded me of what he said to me when I first told him I was going to work at Sydney Olympic Park. “God! How will you cope with the smell?”

    Coming to this highly modern and expansive place now, it is hard to imagine what was here before the Olympic Games led major regeneration project. Rubbish Dumps, processing plants, abbatoirs, brick kilns – this was a dirty, smelly industrial place. Never having been here since the 1960s, Merve’s idea of the place was strongly driven by his first hand experience. while he was peripherally aware that changes had taken place, including the holding of the 2000 Olympic Games, his sense of the identity of the place remained the same. This is a nice example of the intertwining of first hand experience in the sense of identity for a place…Many other people have experiences of this place more recently, and only in major event mode – whether at the Olympic Games, at the Royal Easter Show or at the Football.


    Background

    The major project here at the Park, as you will have heard from Alan Marsh yesterday, is the creation of a new township. This is creating a place very different from that experienced at a major event.

    In 2003 the Authority realised that there was a need to significantly alter a number of negative perceptions about the Park if it was to succeed in this major and very ambitious place making project. These perceptions were largely driven by the media, and the two stories they most wished to tell about the precinct.

    These were that the Olympic Games had cost too much money to stage, and that the Park was the physical symbol of this, and that the park was an underutilised, unwanted, even unloved place. Terms like ‘White Elephant’ and ‘Tumbleweed City’ were thrown about on radio and in newspapers in particular.

    A great example of this was the caption for a photo accompanying a Sydney Morning Herald article in 2004 accompanying an article about the Kerry Packer/David Coe purchase of the then ‘Superdome’. The photo showed a closeup of the concourse in front of the building, a megalithic open space, devoid of people. The caption read ‘All quiet outside ACER Arena yesterday’. Of course, the Herald could have sent their photographer to capture the sight of the crowd entering or departing the building for either of two sell out Andrea Bocelli concerts within twelve hours either side of the photo it chose to display – but the image was created to re-inforce the general narrative about the Park at that time.

    The Authority determined to pursue a number of strategies in order to alter both perceptions and the reality about the place. This included in 2004 establishing a bold and exciting Vision for the future of Sydney Olympic Park:
    “To become an internationally recognised example of intelligent place-making - a dynamic and diverse township for living, working, learning and recreation - a place for all people set within a world class built and natural environment. Within our Vision, we see the creation of a township combining our strategies for Place Leadership, Place Management and Place Making”.

    The case-study I am going to talk to you about today concerns the Arts, Culture and Events programs I was responsible for while working for the Sydney Olympic Park Authority from 2004 to August 2008. These programs actually began as two separate strategies – one for arts and culture and one for Events. I was recruited to the position of Director, Arts Development in 2004 to implement the Arts and Culture strategy (which is still available on the Sydney Olympic Park Website) and in 2007 I was appointed Executive Manager Arts Culture and Events. At that point I formalised existing and planned events programming into a formal strategy which was then approved by the Board, although not published on the web.

    In the interests of saving time, I will talk about these two documents and the programming undertaken prior to August 2008 as one developing idea with a number of strategies within it. The focus of my presentation is a casestudy of how these activities have served as a key placemaking strategy, and their effectiveness in altering perceptions about Sydney Olympic Park.

    A Starting Point

    As set out in the original document. arts and culture plays a key role in the development of the town. It provides:
    • opportunities for the exploration of identity
    • a unique sense of place and vibrancy in the public domain
    • economic benefits through the attraction of major events, the creative community and arts and cultural visitation
    • opportunities for external communities to build a sense of ‘temporary ownership’ of the town
    • nationally and internationally recognised creative outcomes which enhance the Sydney Olympic Park Brand

    The Vision: Arts And Culture And Events
    Sydney Olympic Park is a unique precinct within Sydney, providing opportunities for our resident, worker and visitor community to engage in exemplary, diverse and accessible Arts, cultural and Event activities.

    By 2012, Sydney Olympic Park will be recognised by Sydney residents, and shared with visitors to the city as a premier venue for arts, cultural and entertainment events as well as being a premier sporting precinct. The events produced by the Park have a reputation for being outstanding experiences, different on what is on offer elsewhere, and responsive to both the distinctive attributes of the place and the needs of the community.

    Sydney Olympic Park is a place with a unique creative spirit which has developed in response to the place and its many communities. It is a place where established and emerging artists and communities work together, creating a vibrant and creative spirit of place.

    By 2012 the Authority will have made significant progress on creating a permanent arts and cultural facility for the community in partnership with Auburn Council. From 2012 onwards the program will focus on activating and promoting that facility while reducing investment in public domain activities.

    Distinctive Features

    Some of the distinctive features which the arts and cultural program provide to the town include:
    • a unique opportunity to explore the relationship between nature, heritage and the arts
    • enthusiasts, community members, elite artists and international events all being catered to by the program, and operating side-by-side, as is the case for the Park’s sporting facilities
    • opportunities for research, development, learning, production and presentation for a diverse mix of artforms, practices and cultures
    • the involvement of arts and culture in the everyday life of the Park through its vibrant creative community
    • setting of cultural activity within the 425 hectares of parkland at the heart of a modern metropolis
    • adapting and re-using naval heritage buildings for arts programming
    • unique range of small to enormous venues
    • activities reflecting the character of different places within the park – such as history of the Newington Armory setting, from the Indigenous history through the first land grants to the Blaxland and Wentworth Families, to the Royal Australian Naval Armaments Depot (Newington) which operated from the 1890s to 1999, and the neighbouring nature reserve which includes original Sydney basin woodlands and wetlands.


    The new plan drafted in 2007 drew on all of the previous strategic activity and reduced its Focus to four main outcome areas:

    Values

    In 2004 Sydney Olympic Park Authority determined to pursue 5 core values in establishing an arts and cultural life for
    Sydney Olympic Park:

    • innovative - new, clever and inventive
    • authentic - arising from and/or responsive to the community and this place
    • forward-looking - developmental, embracing change and risking the new
    • participatory - encouraging active engagement in arts and culture
    • inclusive - reflecting and celebrating the diversity and heritage of our communities, the locations comprising the Park and their histories, catering to people of all ages and backgrounds, accessible, built on sustainable partnerships and part of daily life in the Park.

    Strategies
    The original 2004 Arts Strategy was new and very much focused on Arts and culture contributing to changing perceptions about the Park, and its emergence as a dynamic place with a unique identity.

    As a result, the strategies focused on creating programs through four key strategies:
    1. Establish a Creative Community at Sydney Olympic Park
    2. Utilise space to drive cultural activity
    3. Establish the organisational capability required to implement the strategy
    4. Build activity from a community level

    Over time and with the adoption of a formal Events strategy in 2007, these have evolved a little further, and could then be better described as these four strategies:

    1. BUILDING A NEW TOWN at SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK
    Establish Sydney Olympic Park as a unique site for arts and culture by developing and delivering events, public art and cultural programs and facilities that will:
    • add to the creative, cultural and artistic dimensions to everyday life at the Park;
    • reflect the unique characteristics of the place; and
    • make it an attractive location for residents, workers, and tenants by responding to their needs; and
    • foster a distinctive cultural identity for the Park.

    2. REINFORCING the PARK’S POSITION as Sydney’s PREMIER MAJOR EVENTS PRECINCT
    Host and produce major Arts, Cultural and Entertainment Events that will:
    • Establish the credentials of the Park as a key Arts, Cultural and Event venue;
    • Become regular fixtures of the Sydney cultural calendar;
    • Provide a point of difference with the more established arts and cultural precincts within the city.

    3. INCREASING VISITATION to the PARK
    Increase the number of visits to the park for arts, culture and event experiences by managing substantial calendar of SOPA and community public events that:
    • is delivered to exemplary standards;
    • responds to the needs and interests of the various communities of Park users;
    • distinguishes Sydney Olympic Park as a leading public events destination; and
    • increases the Park’s prominence at a local and regional level.


    4. INCREASING the SUSTAINABILITY of ARTS CULTURE and EVENTS PROGRAMS
    Ensuring the ongoing viability of the program by emphasising the production, staging and promotion of a sustainable public events, arts and cultural program for Sydney Olympic Park that:
    • is cost effective,
    • attracts partners and sponsors, and
    • supports other economic drivers at the Park.


    Objectives
    Over the five years of this evolving plan, six objectives emerged that deliver these four key strategies, and progress the Park towards an overarching Arts, Cultural and Event Vision. Many individual programs deliver outcomes across of strategies. The programs used to pursue each objective are more clearly understood when grouped into objective oriented strategies as I will now describe:


    Objective one: BUILDING A NEW TOWN

    STRATEGIES:

    Strategy one: Contribute to the overall placemaking effort at Sydney Olympic Park through Event activities that will:
    • Ensure arts and culture is part of the perceived identity and brand of Park;
    • Re-enforce the character of the Park (participation, lifestyle, values, sense of place/identity/way of life);
    • Activate, promote and enliven the Public Domain; and
    • Avoid duplication of events offered elsewhere.

    Strategy two: Creative Community Program
    i) Attract Arts organizations and workers to the site:
    Artists in a wide variety of artforms and practices will live and work at the site. This will be achieved through a variety of programs including:
    • Artists in Residence, Artist Studios and Writers Studios at Newington Amory;
    • Arts Organisations in residence at the Armory and the Vernon Heritage precinct;
    • Partnerships with key organisations to utilise facilities at the Park;
    • Development of artist live/work spaces as part of the affordable housing stock within the residential developments in the urban core.

    ii) Undertake Community Cultural Development Activities
    Prior to the establishment of significant residential accommodation on the site, the program will engage with other communities such as:
    • Relevant communities of interest eg Bicentennial Park users;
    • Neighbouring communities and community groups;
    • Disadvantaged communities close to the Park;
    • On-site worker communities;
    • Large regional communities not catered to by smaller, local facilities (eg Diaspora)
    in order to develop and deliver lunchtime, evening and weekend participation based activities in a wide range of artforms including visual arts, film-making, music and dance.

    iii) Deliver a program of creative and participative activities for children and young people;

    iv) Partner with local community and arts agencies to deliver programs and one-off projects;


    Strategy three: Ongoing promotion and enhancement of a unique collection of Public Art/Urban Art in the Park’s public domain
    • Increase access to, and understanding of, the public art collection;
    • Commission and create original artworks that consolidate the Park’s status as home to the largest single precinct collection of permanent, site-specific works in the country;
    • Create exhibition and display infrastructure to support presentation of temporary public artworks and initiate changing program of temporary works; and
    • Encourage developers and property owners to commission public art

    Strategy four: Establish Newington Armory as a distinctive cultural Precinct by:
    • Utilising the built infrastructure and the unique river frontage to create unique and site-specific events;
    • Continuing to upgrade and improve facilities and services at the Armory, particularly those which service event requirements;
    • Delivering an annual program of exhibitions in Australia’s largest single-room permanent art exhibition venue, comprising one-off exhibitions and an annual ArtExpress exhibition;
    • Partnering with commercial event producers to develop, encourage and sustain suitable special events;
    • Programming small scale and regular activity to encourage return visitation and regular usage by the local community; and
    • Marketing and presenting the precinct with a focus on its key points of difference to other offers and locations.

    Strategy five: Establish Sydney Olympic Park as the home of World Music by:
    • Including World Music elements in events and establishing world music programs as a point of difference;
    • Utilising the cultural diversity of park users and neighbouring communities and providing a means of community engagement and expression;
    • Activating a regular ‘fine grain’ program of world music activities including classes, workshops, lunchtime performances; and
    • Initiating/partnering in a music festival with a world music focus.

    Strategy six: Establish new facilities for arts and cultural activity including:
    • Ongoing program of adaptive reuse of heritage buildings at Newington Armory;
    • Restoration of the Vernon Theatrette to full operational capacity; and
    • Creation of new community cultural facilities under the Sydney Olympic Park Masterplan 2030.


    Measuring Impact

    Although it is difficult to quantify, it is clear that the Arts, Culture and Events programs at the Park have been significant contributors to changing perceptions about Sydney Olympic Park. The ‘White Elephant’ and ‘Tumbleweed City’ tags have disappeared. The negative story that the media wants to tell still exists, but is now all about the Stadium rather than the Park itself.

    Some quantifiable data has been collected, however and can be presented as follows:
    • In the Annual Consumer Benchmarking survey 2007, 58% of visitors to the Park thought it was a good place for Arts and Entertainment – up from a baseline of 18% in 2004
    • Arts and Events programs attract first time visitors to the Park from a minimum of 11% up as high as 55% of respondents to feedback surveys at events in 2007/08
    • Patron satisfaction in the 2007/08 program measured at low of 92% through to a high of 99% in the same surveys
    • Arts and cultural homepage created in August 2006 consistently performs as the most viewed section of the whole Sydney Olympic Park website – 20 out of the first 24 months ranked at number one, never ranked lower than 4th in those two years.


    The Future

    One of the difficulties of achieving this kind of success is that the original rationale for a program such as this fades into the background. It can become easy to try to justify programs and activities for their own sake or because they have ‘always been done’.

    The site has been one of constant adaptation and change over more than 100 years and this will continue under the 2030 Sydney Olympic Park Masterplan. The demographics of people within the park will change, and so will their needs. The strategic value of Arts Culture and Events at the Park to the larger placemaking effort will remain, but it will increasingly move away from a ‘perception’ and ‘image making’ project to one that engages more closely with its residents, workers and visitors and responds to their needs. Over time it will come to more closely resemble a local government style arts, culture and events program. This will include moving away from large regionally oriented events to smaller community focused events. There will be a need for a community cultural venue that caters to the immediate needs of residents and neighbouring areas and that enable, encourage and foster real participation in arts and cultural activity rather than passive consumption of programming for a broad audience.

    This is where the true strategic value of arts, culture and events programs lies. They can be adapted, altered, adjusted, revamped – completely re created from scratch in response to the changing strategic needs of organisers and the needs of communities, audiences and artists alike.


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Arts Culture and Events as a key placemaking strategy Arts Culture and Events as a key placemaking strategy Presentation Transcript

  • Arts, Culture & Events as a key Placemaking Strategy Scott O’Hara Manager, Sutherland Entertainment Centre Former Executive Manager, Arts Culture & Events Sydney Olympic Park Authority
  • A smelly old place
  • Placemaking Case Study – Sydney Olympic Park
  • A role for Arts, Culture and Events Of Angels and Light Studio Festi, Sydney Festival at SOP 2004
  • THE VISION: ARTS AND CULTURE and EVENTS
    • exemplary, diverse and accessible Arts, cultural and Event activities.
    • a premier venue for arts, cultural and entertainment events as well as being a premier sporting precinct.
    • outstanding experiences, different on what is on offer elsewhere
    • responsive to the place and the needs of the community.
    • unique creative spirit
    • a permanent arts and cultural facility for the community
  • Distinctive Features
    • Nexus: Nature, Heritage and the Arts
    • Community to Elite
    • Everyday activity
    • Metropolitan Parkland
    • Adaptive Re-use
    • Wide range of venues
    • Character of the various precincts
    Armory Gallery Exterior
  • Values
    • • innovative
    • • authentic
    • • forward-looking
    • • participatory
    • • inclusive
    Clay River public artwork proposed for the Brickpit by Andy Goldsworthy 2005
  • Strategies
    • BUILDING A NEW TOWN at SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK
    • REINFORCING the PARK’S POSITION as Sydney’s PREMIER MAJOR EVENTS PRECINCT
    • INCREASING VISITATION to the PARK
    • INCREASING the SUSTAINABILITY of ARTS CULTURE and EVENTS PROGRAMS
  • Misty 2 by Artist in Residence Ying Chang
  • Strategy one: placemaking
    • Ensure arts and culture is part of the perceived identity and brand of Park;
    • Re-enforce the character of the Park (participation, lifestyle, values, sense of place/identity/way of life);
    • Activate, promote and enliven the Public Domain;
    • Avoid duplication of events offered elsewhere.
  • Music By Moonlight
  • Acoustica at the Armory
  • Key Partnerships
  • Sydney Symphony
  • Sculpture by the Sea
  • Dept Education & Training
  • The Sydney Festival at Sydney Olympic Park Movies at the Overflow
  • The Lazy Kings
  • Crackers
  • Strategy two: Creative Community
    • i) Attract Arts organizations and workers to the site:
    • ii) Undertake Community Cultural Development Activities
    • iii) Deliver a program of creative and participative activities for children and young people;
    • iv) Partner with local community and arts agencies to deliver programs and one-off projects;
  • Artist Studios
  • Artist Workshops
  • Artist in Residence Accommodation
  • Community Events
  • Deepavali
  • Carols by the Cauldron
  • Australia Day
  • Eid
  • Kids in the Park
  • Strategy three: Urban Art
    • Increase access and understanding
    • consolidate the Park’s status as home to the largest single precinct collection of permanent, site-specific works in the country;
    • changing program of temporary works; and
    • Encourage developers and property owners to commission public art
  • Discobolus by Robert Owen
  • Eight Women by Imants Tillers
  • Eventful Path
  • Northern Water Feature
  • In the Shadows by Janet Laurence
  • Peace Monument by Mike Kitching
  • The Sprinter by Dominique Sutton
  • Untitled piece by David Howell
  • Strategy four: Newington Armory
    • Unique and site-specific events;
    • upgrade and improve facilities and services at the Armory;
    • annual program of exhibitions;
    • Partnering with commercial event producers;
    • Programming small scale and regular activity; and
    • focus on key differences
  • Newington Armory:Unique Arts Precinct
  • Armory Theatre
  • Armory Theatre - interior
  • Armory Amphitheatre
  • Armory Gallery
  • ARTEXPRESS at the Armory
  • Electra Graffiti GRAB
  • From Mao to Now
  • The Great Escape
  • Strategy five: World Music
    • World Music as a point of difference;
    • Utilising the cultural diversity of park users;
    • Activating a regular ‘fine grain’ program; &
    • Initiating/partnering in a music festival with a world music focus
  • World Music Program
  • Strategy six: new facilities
    • Ongoing program of adaptive reuse of heritage buildings at Newington Armory;
    • Restoration of the Vernon Theatrette; and
    • Creation of new community cultural facilities under the Sydney Olympic Park Masterplan 2030.
  • Measuring Impact Taikoz
    • The Park is a ‘good place’ for Arts and Entertainment
    • Arts and Events programming attracts first time visitors
    • Very High Patron Satisfaction
    • High utilisation of Arts Homepage
  • The Future Visual identity from Art Express at the Armory 2008