Renewed focus on Parramatta’s Night-Time Economy
The recent Global Cities After Dark Parramatta week-long program of workshops shone a light on new opportunities in Parramatta that the Night-Time Economy can bring.
Renewed focus on Parramatta’s Night-Time Economy
The City of Parramatta has recently seen a renewed focus on the Night-Time Economy (NTE) in the Parramatta area. The COVID pandemic stalled many of the previous NTE initiatives, but as the impact lessens, the focus is now firmly on encouraging Parramatta residents and visitors to enjoy Parramatta’s night life.
The recent Global Cities After Dark Parramatta week-long program of workshops shone a light on the opportunities by bringing many stakeholders together to discuss the possibilities that the NTE can bring.
A resilience-focused program of international keynotes and sector-specific workshops, Global Cities After Dark was-designed in collaboration with local night-time economy sector leaders. The program focused on planning ahead, aligned with the implementation of the NSW Government 24-Hour Economy Strategy.
At the ‘Celebrate Local’ finale dinner, 24-Hour Night Time Economy Commissioner Michael Rodrigues spoke about the importance of the diversification of night-time activities and how Parramatta is key to changing the previously held narrative of Western Sydney.
Some of the key take-aways from the week included:
- Collaboration across the different industries, working alongside local and state governments is essential for the success of life after dark in the Parramatta region.
- Communities need to align and organise to ensure they are positioned to maximise their opportunity for growth and to thrive in this new chapter in Western Sydney’s culture and nightlife.
- COVID-19 has presented a greater opportunity for localised night-time economies across the region, as Western Sydney has many night-time experiences that consumers used to travel internationally to experience.
- Safety depends on diversity and inclusion and the success of new transport infrastructure will require active civil, industry sector and government participation to change social norms to provide a safe and cost-effective journey for users of the night-time economy.
The four sector workshops covered hospitality, live music & entertainment, major events & cultural tourism, and transport & safety. Each workshop focused on the unique attributes of Parramatta and how these characteristics can be utilised.
The initiative was supported by the NSW Government and City of Parramatta.
The participants in the hospitality sector workshop felt that Parramatta is uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of world-class food offerings, that patrons often travel overseas to experience, but can have the same experience closer to home. Parramatta is not the ‘second city’ of Sydney, so needs to be very different from the CBD.
They also felt that local businesses require ongoing support beyond COVID recovery for education, development and implementation through initiatives like temporary pop-up activations and cross-sector collaborations.
This can all be achieved with a balance of independent and chain businesses, smaller capacity and larger capacity bars and restaurants to provide a diverse after-dark experience.
Live music & entertainment
Attendees at the music & entertainment workshop said that Parramatta and Western Sydney have a very strong local music and entertainment scene. Championing and sharing their stories will amplify the uniqueness of this region.
The participants felt that in a post-COVID environment, there is the opportunity to take lessons from lockdown and before the pandemic to make lasting changes.
This can be achieved by working together. The communities in Parramatta and Western Sydney need to coordinate, align and organise to be a singular voice. Forums like Global Cities After Dark is a good start and they should continue meeting regularly.
Parramatta and Western Sydney will be a phenomenal creative place if the necessary support, tools and processes are in place.
Major events & cultural tourism
The workshop participants concluded that there is a new mindset emerging about Western Sydney as a creative tourism location. To amplify this and to promote this unique region will require cross-sector, local and state government collaboration.
Parramatta and Western Sydney have a distinct advantage with cultural diversity so major events and festivals need to ensure local culture is front and centre. Consultation between major events and festival organisers and local grassroots communities is necessary to utilise these unique experiences as an asset to drive tourism.
Global Cities After Dark provided a catalyst for continued dialogue across the region's major and cultural events network.
Transport & safety
A key part of expanding the NTE in Parramatta is transport and safety. The workshop attendees discussed safety measures such as extending services to wider Western Sydney, safety marshals contracted after dark to facilitate safer journeys, and expanding well-lit transport hubs.
They also felt that some misconceptions also need to be tackled. After dark activities go well beyond bars and gigs extending to after-hours museum offerings for family-friendly entertainment, late-night dining and family-friendly attractions.
Also working to enhance the NTE of Parramatta is a series of grants from Council.
Eight local businesses and organisations were recently awarded grants of up to $10,000 to deliver programs that will increase the City of Parramatta’s night-time offerings and assist in leading the City’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
Council launched the Night-Time Economy Activation Grants earlier this year to support Council’s vision of turning the Central River City into a thriving 24-hour destination.
Global Cities After Dark Parramatta signifies a critical and exciting step forward toward a vibrant 24-hour economy that aims to expand, preserve and cultivate the rich cultural and creative diversity that is unique to Western Sydney. This along with the recent business grants will begin the journey to a vibrant night-time economy.