Vivid ‘Lights On’ at Chatswood

This time of year reminds us all why Sydney is Australia’s premier city, as our streets come alive with the spectacle of Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light and creativity. Vivid is now one of the world’s greatest events, and last year over 2.3 million people attended the festival. I am sure that even more will do so this year.

I am someone who is passionate about the role of our tourism industry in Australia’s economy. Vivid’s boon for our state’s visitor economy is enormous. It injects some $110 million into our hotels, restaurants and attractions.

For a festival like this, the challenge for organisers is to make each year better than the last, no easy task, but somehow Destination NSW always seems to achieve a little bit more.

I congratulate the New South Wales government and Destination NSW for giving our city such an incredible spectacle, and I particularly acknowledge the role of Sandra Chipchase, the head of Destination NSW, in bringing this event together.

Since its inception, Vivid has expanded from being a CBD-focused event to one that is now reaching different parts of our city, making it more accessible for residents across Sydney. For people living in my electorate, it means that Vivid events can now be found in our very own suburbs.

I particularly want today to congratulate Willoughby City Council for its work in bringing Vivid to Chatswood in partnership with the state government.

Chatswood is already one of Sydney’s most vibrant and multicultural precincts, and its reputation as a centre for dining and for other activities is growing by the year. Its inclusion in Vivid has reinforced that status.

Last week I joined the Mayor of Willoughby, Gail Giles-Gidney, and local residents for the turning on of the lights of the Chatswood Concourse. To see so many families enjoying Vivid, particularly children—and some adults like me as well—captivated by the light installations, in our own local area was truly a great experience.

Activities stretch from the Chatswood Interchange, with its 9,000-LED lightshow, down the spine of Chatswood Mall to the Concourse and Chatswood Chase. I encourage local residents who have not already done so to think about attending.

Some local residents have suggested to me over the last week how great it would also be to see Vivid events in the North Sydney CBD. North Sydney Council partnered for two years with Destination NSW to see Vivid activities on the north side of the bridge, and I know that their mayor, Jilly Gibson, was enthusiastic about its potential. Unfortunately for local residents and businesses, the majority of councillors resolved not to continue that partnership.

I want to encourage North Sydney Council to work with Destination NSW to look again at options to extend Vivid to North Sydney. North Sydney historically has had the reputation of being a little bit dull after dark.

That is slowly changing, and I commend the work of council and others for making that happen, as we see more developments and more opportunities for people to access what is a major CBD.

Something like Vivid would enhance that process enormously. It is an opportunity missed to enliven the CBD in North Sydney, with its growing status as a hub for innovation. A celebration of the creativity present in Australia’s fourth-largest CBD would provide a logical theme for future involvement.

North Sydney Council only needs to look north to Chatswood to see how much a local business precinct and residents can benefit from Vivid.

Vivid has grown to be much more than simply a lightshow. The festival includes more than 400 music and 280 ideas events.

In addition to the opportunities at Chatswood, I want to pay tribute to the teachers and students of Bradfield Senior College at Gore Hill for deciding to once again become involved in Vivid. Bradfield college is a senior high school specialising in the creative industries, and it has an outstanding reputation for its work in this area.

As part of the Vivid Ideas Program, Bradfield college played host to Creative Careers 2017 last weekend, which showcased the opportunities available to young people in our creative industries—from film and digital media to textiles and design. I had the opportunity to visit the college and to see the program in action.

The enthusiasm of the students and staff was obvious, and they can be very proud of staging such an excellent demonstration of our creative industries. They are truly a talented group of young Australians with a big future ahead of them.

I particularly want mention their ‘Secrets’ exhibition, which included a documentary made in partnership with the residents of the Caroline Chisholm aged-care facility in Lane Cove.

I know that the making of the doco was a moving and revelatory experience for both the students and the aged-care residents involved.

The school is led by its director, Meredith Melville-Jones, and she and her team put together an excellent program.

I was delighted to be able to meet many of the students who were involved. I look forward to seeing Vivid continue to grow across Sydney and, I hope, further expand on the North Shore. It is truly a wonderful event enjoyed by so many in our community.

Article originally published on Trent Zimmerman's website.