Parramatta has many unique assets - from our heritage, our diverse backgrounds, our built and natural assets and our environment - and these should all be an important part of our future as a Central City.
Our cultural, recreational and entertainment activities should be embedded into our city landscape and be an important part of what makes Parramatta a liveable and dynamic city.
We are experiencing tremendous growth and investment in Parramatta which is set to continue as the NSW Government delivers the infrastructure that will help take Parramatta to the next level.
As more people live and work in Parramatta, now is the time to start to influence and shape how we use our public spaces for culture and recreation, building on some of the success’s already underway in Parramatta.
Council has driven some exciting events that have had positive impacts for Parramatta.
We have Parramatta Lanes, bringing a taste of Melbourne laneway culture to Parramatta and proving more popular each year.
Every Friday we now see the market stall’s set up in Centenary Square, creating a real buzz for the morning and lunch crowd with a range of food and beverage options around the picturesque cathedral and town hall.
Throughout the year we have multicultural festivals and parades, food festivals and theatre events, all contributing to the cultural life of the city.
The new Powerhouse Museum and Arts and Culture precinct will no doubt be a further catalyst for cultural development in Parramatta CBD.
However, it’s not just the big events and festivals that make the culture of a city and makes a city liveable and keeps public spaces active and dynamic.
For a city to be truly liveable it’s also about the everyday use of public space and we do see this trend growing in Parramatta.
There are runners and cyclists down by the river, and morning exercisers in front of the cathedral.
We see the ping pong tables in use in front of Town Hall, and the tables and chairs by the fountain occupied with workers and residents catching up for a coffee or a chat.
All great cities have good public spaces for people - that draw in residents and tourists, which bring workers out of their offices at lunch time and after work and students before and after school.
In New York, people play chess in the park, use neighbourhood basketball courts and exercise on outdoor gym equipment year round, keeping the city pulsing with life.
Across the cities of Europe, laneways, gardens and piazzas are constantly occupied with people day and night, moving between restaurants and cafés, going to galleries, shops or small bars.
I would also like to see the discussion extended past the CBD boundaries.
The Parramatta North Heritage Precinct is within close proximity to the CBD and its heritage gives it uniqueness much like the Rocks is to the Sydney CBD.
There are also a number of opportunities and synergies between Council’s plan and the NSW Government commitment to create a cultural precinct. I see the Parramatta North
Heritage Precinct as an ideal home for an arts and culture precinct dedicated to digital arts.
There are number of buildings in the North Parramatta site earmarked for restoration that could potentially be adaptively reused by creative and knowledge based artists, communities and organisations, supporting cultural expression and innovation in Parramatta.
We could also use the site to train up local talent from producers, filmmakers, artists and performers and produce and showcase more home-grown works. This could be done by incorporating a creative campus in the Parramatta North Heritage Precinct.
From day to day life in the public domain, events and festivals to a unique arts and cultural precinct there are significant opportunities here. With the right focus and commitment Parramatta will not just reach but exceed its potential as a place to visit, live and work.
Geoff Lee is State Member for Parramatta.