When the New South Wales Government set out its 24-hour-Economy Strategy to shape Sydney’s night-time economy there were three key measures: a 24-hour Economy Commissioner, the 24-hour Economy Acceleration Program and the Neon Grid.

The first of those measures is now in place with the announcement of Night-Time Industries Association Chair and Managing Director of Time Out Australia, Michael Rodrigues as the 24-hour Economy Commissioner.

The strategy aims to unlock Sydney’s cultural and economic potential and Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said Rodrigues would bring the strategy to life and work to make Sydney the best place to live, work and play that it can possibly be.

“Our tourism, hospitality and arts sectors have been hit hard by the pandemic, but now we have the opportunity to bring Sydney back better than ever,” Mr Ayres said.

“The Strategy includes a 24-hour Economy Acceleration Program, through which the Government will work with councils and industry to identify and activate unique and thriving economic hubs across Sydney,” Mr Ayres said.

“It will result in a network of activated 24-hour economy hubs across Sydney – each offering a distinct experience, and well connected by efficient transport options.

“This ‘Neon Grid’ of hubs across the city will represent Sydney’s diverse and vibrant night economy and we will collaborate with industry and councils to bring it to life, connecting consumers, creatives and entrepreneurs.

“Michael Rodrigues as the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner will spearhead the strategy and bring State and Local Governments and industry together to create safe and vibrant opportunities for people to enjoy the greatest city in the world.”

Rodrigues said he was looking forward to getting started in the role.

“I’m excited about the upcoming opportunities and to champion the 24-Hour Economy strategy as we deliver a nightlife that’ll sit alongside New York, London and Tokyo,” Mr Rodrigues said.

“As our city rebuilds from the COVID-19 pandemic, the 24-hour economy strategy is central to NSW’s economic and social recovery. So many industries have had a really tough 12 months, but we are seeing the green shoots of recovery across Sydney and NSW.”

CEO of Spirits & Cocktails Australia and NTIA Board member Greg Holland congratulated the NSW Government on a great appointment to the role of 24-Hour Economy Commissioner.

“Mike has worked tirelessly to unite passionate advocates from all corners of the night-time industries to collaborate on bold ideas for a safe, vibrant and thriving 24-hour economy for NSW.

“His leadership will be pivotal to revitalising the NSW night-time economy following the harsh impact of COVID-19. I am confident the 24-Hour Economy Strategy is in safe hands.

Holland also encouraged NSW residents to get back out into hospitality venues to support them in their COVID recovery.

“There has never been a more important time to get back out to your favourite venues – or to try somewhere new. With COVID-Safe plans in place, it’s time to come out and embrace the ‘new normal’ and experience Sydney’s world-class hospitality once more.”

NSW Independent Bars Association President Karl Schlothauer, also welcomed the appointment, saying: “Mike is a great appointment for this pivotal role – a true champion of the industry and genuine collaborator.

“We look forward to continuing to engage with Mike in his new role and helping Sydney not only recover from COVID-19 but reclaim its standing as a global city – with a nightlife to match.”

Australian Venue Co is a member of the Night-Time Industries Association and also owns a number of venues in the city and CEO Paul Waterson welcomed and supported Rodrigues’ appointment.

“What a difference a couple of years makes in Sydney. The way the Government has moved to embrace the night time economy culminating with the appointment of Mike as 24-Hour Economy Commissioner is really outstanding,” Waterson said.

“Mike is a passionate, long term supporter of our industry. We think his appointment will mean significant acceleration of Sydney’s night-time economy as we recover from COVID. In my view they couldn’t have chosen a better person for the job.

“We have been incredibly pleased to see the moves the NSW Government is making to re-invigorate the night time economy. The breadth and speed of the change is very heartening and reassuring. It certainly gives us confidence to invest further in the city and will ensure we continue to look hard to develop new sites in Sydney that both Sydneysiders and visitors will embrace.

“There is resultant stronger employment for our sector when you know you have a supportive Government and someone like Mike in such a senior position in the Department.”

The 24-hour economy strategy will focus on driving investment while turbocharging job creation and night time business activity in the CBD and throughout Greater Sydney, by:

  • Supporting more integrated planning and place-making within government to enable the 24-hour economy to thrive.
  • Encouraging the diversification of night-time activities by supporting a wider variety of businesses at night.
  • Nurturing industry and cultural development to help entrepreneurs thrive in the 24-hour economy.
  • Exploring ways to enhance mobility and improve connectivity between 24-hour economy hubs through safe and reliable transport; and
  • Changing the narrative to attract more local consumption, encourage healthy behaviours, and reinforce Sydney’s status as a global cultural capital.

Rodrigues will commence his role as Commissioner at the end of March.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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