On Wednesday 29 April 2020 Greg participated in the online Candidate Forum. The text of his presentation is included here. You can view a recording of the entire forum with Greg and each of the other candidate’s presenting along with an extensive audience Q&A session on Facebook Live.
Those who know me will know that I am driven to serve, and that I believe in the dignity of service. It is my vocation. I learned this from 25 years in retail: eye honesty; research and product knowledge – features, advantages and benefits! And I carried this ethos forward into my cultural leadership and public sector leadership journey.
At my heart I am still a small business man. It just happens that my business is culture.
I have learned over many years that people want honesty, reliability and integrity. And these have been the hallmarks of my nearly 40 years of working in the City of Adelaide’s Central Ward.
I have worked as an executive for a large corporation – Myer in Runde Mall – and been self employed with my own business – Imprints Booksellers in Adelaide’s West End.
I have anchored Zone Gallery – the longest running artist run Gallery in South Australia. As co-founder and former President of the Adelaide West End Association, I created value-ads by spearheading an arts-led urban renewal strategy. In its time, with the encouragement of enlightened property owners, we attracted to the West End the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Arts SA, The Adelaide Festival of Arts, and the Adelaide Fringe.
We created Shop-Art – effectively the forerunner to Renew Newcastle and Renew Adelaide. And we reversed the decline of the west end without $millions of taxpayer subsidy.
Between 2000-03 I served the communities of Adelaide on Council with passion, energy and conviction. Back then there were only eight Elected Members plus a Lord Mayor – all were city-wide. My stakeholders were not only the arts – they were shop-keepers, central market traders – I chaired the Central Market Committee for a few years.
My stakeholders were residents – and the design industries. I also spoke up for the homeless and for First Nations Australians.
I feel compelled – once again – to step up, to serve and advocate, to provide a model of leadership that builds coalitions and shared understandings, and that plays a part in helping to navigate our city, our community and our economy, through what will clearly be the worst recession in several generations.
I do not want to represent a city of boarded up shopfronts! We must do everything possible to ensure that good businesses come through this dark time – and come through more resilient and better able to thrive in the new frontiers that await us.
The full economic consequences of our unavoidable national response to the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic – are yet to be fully realised. We must ensure that in the scramble to reduce expenses – that we do not lose sight of our role and purpose as a capital city in a city-state.
We need to harness the smartest and wisest of counsel in crafting a way forward for our city. The right combination of economic stimulus plus good decision-making with the ratepayers’ money and borrowings – this demands the right kinds of demand growth strategies.
We need a City-State Summit that brings together the leadership of our major sectors – and the City Council must work hand-in-glove with the State Government to ensure that we target the right drivers of recovery and growth. We cannot do this alone.
And we must discourage reckless spending for fear of being accused of not doing enough.
In times of crisis we need to know our values – and we need to build the greatest level of consensus going forward – not vitriolic division. Democracy deserves a little dignity.
Retail is the very lifeblood of the city centre – be it goods and services – food and beverage – pubs – clubs – and cafes. Retail is actually a vital part of the City of Adelaide’s “Cultural Economy”.
So – what do I mean by the term ‘cultural economy”?
The cultural economy is not just the arts sector like the orchestra, the opera – the theatre and other live perfomance. It is all the things that make us human – and give us cause to come together.
The cultural economy is retail. The cultural economy is entertainment. The cultural economy is partying and commemorating. And while it may not be my cup of tea – the cultural economy is also gambling and pokies
The cultural economy is our conventions and our festivals – and our major events – it is WOMADelaide – it is all the multicultural festivals. It is even faith-based communion for those who share religious beliefs.
The Cultural Economy is sport and recreation – it’s the footy and cricket at Adelaide Oval – it is the tennis and the skateboarding and the BMX track. It is water-sport – from rowing and the aquatic centre – to the Popeye The cultural economy is Tasting Australia. And the cultural economy is also the Adelaide 500.
The cultural economy extends to learning and knowledge – our city universities are all engine-rooms for employment and consumption – from academics to admin teams to students. All of these bring culture, and through this, they bring economy into the central ward
The cultural economy includes the creative industries including the architects and planners who design the buildings that drives profit for developers, new rates income for Council, and that attracts more people to choose to live or visit
The cultural economy creates jobs – it feeds and educates families.
The cultural economy drives visitation – from public transport to private car-parking in the CBD. And let’s face it, car-parking is the cash cow that has been subsidising the City of Adelaide ratepayer facilities and amenities for decades – especially since Council lost the windfall annual profits from operating the Wingfield Dump over a dozen years ago.
We all know how huge the annual ‘Mad March’ cluster of events is. This is cultural economy activation. It fills cafes, taxis and ubers, hotel rooms and brings ice and a great vibe to our city streets and squares and Park Lands. This is when Adelaide is at is most glorious and international best – and we can grow that achievement into an interlinked calendar – with four seasons of events and programs that reflect our temperament and climate.
Office workers are attracted to places that make experiences fun and this helps make life worthwhile – public and private enterprise office workers who drive demand for car- parking.
I am excited by the prospect of a newly focused winter cluster of festivals and events wrapped around a major new winterfest event. Lord knows, after all this isolating, we will want and need to re-connect with our families and fellow citizens and visitors. This return to public gathering deserves a major city-wide celebration – street parties with live music and and the best of our glorious food and wine culture.
For anyone who thinks that place activation through festivals and major events is not a good use of taxpayer funds, just ask the cafe operators – the pubs and the clubs and retailers. And just ask the city visitors.
From day one as the leader of Arts SA in January 2004 I worked to convince them that we needed to make the festival and fringe annual. In 2006 – which was the very last biennial Adelaide Fringe, and therefore the very first of the annual Fringes, some 160,000 tickets were purchased – and that was once every two years. By 2020, nearly 900,000 tickets were purchased – and this is now the level of embrace and engagement that we know and love every year.
We have grown demand, and through this we have grown the cultural economy, and the flow-on benefits to city businesses are palpable.
Ladies and gentlemen – in all of this I played a lead role. I have been deputy head of the Public Service. I manage complexity every singe day. And,having managed very large and very tiny budgets over the years, I know how to make a budget stretch.
I have done this Council role before – and I now know even better than before what I am doing. I love our city now more than ever before – and with your support and your votes – I will once again step up.