City Talk tackles Sydney’s big cultural questions

City Talk tackles Sydney’s big cultural questions

Sydney’s creative and cultural life will be put under the microscope by local and international experts at next month’s City Talk, presented by the City of Sydney.

Carol Coletta, president of ArtPlace America, will share the insights she’s gained from decades spent transforming communities across the United States through arts, culture and creativity – and suggest how Sydney could learn from her experiences.

Ms Coletta will be joined by a panel of leading Australian creative thinkers, including Marcus Westbury from not-for-profit creative spaces organisation Renew Australia, Nicole Durling from the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, and Charles Firth from hit ABC TV series The Roast.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the debate was part of a broader callout for ideas from Sydney’s residents, workers and visitors.

“From museums, galleries, festivals and concert halls to street art, shops and hole-in-the-wall venues, some of the best things about our city are bound up in its cultural life,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’re looking for ideas on how to boost Sydney’s creative arts, and how to encourage more people to go to shows, invest in local artworks, and take part in the arts themselves. We also want to make make sure creative people can afford to live and work here.

“I’m delighted to welcome Carol Coletta and our expert panel for next month’s City Talk, and look forward to drawing on their knowledge and expertise to inspire an even more cultural and creative Sydney.”

The City Talk will be held on 10 April at the State Theatre and is part of a two-month program of community and industry consultation around the development of Sydney’s first-ever cultural policy.

‘Creative City’, the City of Sydney’s cultural policy discussion paper, was endorsed unanimously by Council this week. It’s designed to start a conversation with people who life and work in Sydney about what kind of cultural life they want to see.

Sydneysiders are invited to give their feedback on the discussion paper and their ideas for Sydney’s creative culture at

ArtPlace America is a public-private collaboration of 11 of America‘s top foundations, seven of its federal agencies, and the National Endowment for the Arts. It works across the arts and cultural sectors to encourage vibrant local communities.

Before joining ArtPlace in 2011, Carol Coletta was president and CEO of CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders aiming to build and sustain the next generation of great American cities.

Ms Coletta has also served as executive director of the Mayor’s Institute of City Design, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the American Architectural Foundation.

She is a senior fellow with the Design Futures Council, a Knight Fellow in community building at the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, and has been named one of the world’s 50 most important urban experts by a leading European think tank.

Ms Coletta will be joined at the City Talk by a panel featuring:

  • Marcus Westbury – founder and director of Renew Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that makes empty properties available to short-term creative projects and initiatives;
  • Nicole Durling – senior curator at MONA in Hobart, the largest privately funded museum in Australia which has shot Tasmania to international cultural acclaim through its controversial exhibitions;
  • Katherine Hough – director of Arts Tasmania, the state government agency that has pioneered renowned cultural initiatives like Collect, an interest-free loan scheme for purchasing local artworks;
  • Louise O’Donnell – managing director of Seed Production, a digital media agency that brought the YouTube Symphony Orchestra to Australia and counts major Australian brands among its clients; and
  • Charles Firth – CEO of creative production agency Manic Studios, co-founder of hit ABC TV series The Roast, and founding member of well-known satirical comedy group The Chaser.

The panel will discuss their diverse experiences inspiring, supporting and encouraging cultural growth, and debate the opportunities and practical steps Sydney could take to become a more creative city.

City Talk: Inspire, support, encourage – how can we improve Sydney’s cultural life?

Date:               Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Time:              6.30-8pm
Where:            State Theatre – 49 Market Street, Sydney
Tickets:          Free but limited – booking is essential on 136 100 or via

For more information, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Keeley Irvin.
Phone 0448 005 718 or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Matt Levinson.
Phone 0427 044 768 or email