Following on from our previous report that Sydney Council has begun plans to reinvigorate the CBD’s night-life and cultural scene, with Lord Mayor Clover Moore overseeing the development of Open Sydney, a comprehensive after-hours plan for revitalising the cultural and music scene; today the first part of their new plans are being implemented in the problematic area of Kings Cross.

The popular night-life district has been feeling the ill effects of new legislation and stricter government enforcement since July, when a senseless attack in Kings Cross led to the death of teenager Thomas Kelly, an event that brought the issue of alcohol-related violence to the fore, becoming a political platform for pokie-lined pub venues and politicians alike, while the increased security measures that have been introduced to ensure late-night safety have hurt live music venues by association.

In response, City of Sydney council has been developing more flexible counter-measures to deal with the nightclub district to help curb the culture of violence and anti-social behaviour with the launch of the inaugural Kings Cross Festival this November, with five days of food, entertainment, markets, and music held throughout the area with a view of fostering community.

As the ABC reports, Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the City of Sydney have backed the organisers of the new festival, with Moore saying that entertainment is a powerful way to manage crowd and help change the character of the district.[do action=”pullquote”]”The best way to control a crowd is to entertain it. That’s the principle that drives the Kings Cross festival.”[/do]

“The young people who are attracted to this area every Friday and Saturday night are going to start engaging with some real entertainment rather than just getting pissed and bashing up their friends,” she said. “We know that’s what goes on and we know that there are terrible fights around the taxi ranks at 3 and 4am, and we know that residents here are, you know, really over all of that.”

Meanwhile, the Wentworth Courier notes that the debut Kings Cross Fesitval has received $200,000 in funding from the NSW Government, while Moore and the Sydney City Council have contributed $140,000 to the festival.

Over five days and five nights, Kings Cross will be lit up by a series of gigs, bands, cabaret, art walks, family events, screenings across multiple venues. Adrian Bartels, the chairman of the Potts Point Partnership that is helping host the festival, called it “the broadest and most ambitious program of any festival that I know of.”

“So many festivals settle on a particular genre, but our theme is our community,” said Mr. Bartels, who hopes the festival “change the conversation” and refocus the area after the issues it has faced that have stymied its vibrancy the last few months.

Meanwhile the festival’s artistic director Ignatius Jones, who has previously produced Sydney’s VIVID festival, also agreed with Moore’s comments, saying that “the best way to control a crowd is to entertain it. That’s the principle that drives the Kings Cross festival.”[do action=”pullquote-2”]”It’s the broadest and most ambitious program of any festival that I know of.”[/do]

Jones, who has also helped produce the city’s New Year’s event – itself an annual event that often produced ugly results and alcohol-related violence – likened the turnaround of Kings Cross to the city’s annual celebrations. “”We didn’t turn NYE around over night, it took us a while, but little by little we showed the people of Sydney that we could celebrate responsibly and we could have a few drinks and not go nuts.”

If the clean, colourful website is anything to go by, the Kings Cross Festival looks well-planned and well-executed, and perfectly in line with Sydney Council’s new cultural policy that aims for diversity in the CBD’s after-dark activities and areas; including late-night shopping, eateries, more roving police, better facilities, and even the introduction of more pop-up shops and venues, similar to Mumford & Sons’ impromptu saloon/venue to promote their new album and Australian tour.

If the Kings Cross Festival proves successful, it bodes well for Sydney Council’s Open Sydney plans, proposing nearly 300 new initiatives that aim to double the late-night economy’s annual turnover to $30 billion and increase after-hours jobs by 25 per cent by 2030.

The new festival will also bring a much needed brightening to the grim atmosphere currently surrounding Sydney’s live music scene, particularly in Kings Cross, where the recent introduction of liquor licensing laws, such as having venues use plastic glasses after midnight, a mandatory alcohol-free hour before a site closes, and mandatory ID scanning, is supposed to help rather than hinder.

For full details of the inaugural Kings Cross Festival check out kingscrossonline.com.au

Kings Cross Festival 2012 Dates

Wed Nov 21st – Sun Nov 25th
‘By the community, for the community’

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