2020, the start of a new decade, and the year of Covid. This year began like 2019 ended, with bushfires raging across Australia, burning over 18.6 million hectares and killing over 1 billion animals. No sooner had the bushfires subsided, Covid-19 rolled into town. Back then, no one knew just how much the way we worked, lived and socialised was about to change.

Lockdown, sanitiser, social distancing, stop the spread, wear a mask all became part of the worlds vocabulary. Sani for your hani anyone?

For local businesses, the pandemic had a huge impact on not just daily operations, but how businesses would function in the future. Reinvention meant survival, and we witnessed so many businesses adapt and reimagine their offering. Local residents embraced the new offerings, supporting businesses with their take-away and pantry offerings. Work from home became the new norm, and the home delivery cocktail craze swept into homes cross Sydney.

For the Surry Hills Creative Precinct, we started the year with Picnic Surry Hills in Ward Park featuring food stalls, DJs and live entertainment. As Covid impacted in person events, our Surry Hills Live sessions moved from local pubs and evolved into Surry Hills Live, a weekly online music show streamed out of JJ Splice Studios in downtown Surry Hills. Over 4,000 people tuned in each week to listen to the sets of Andy Golledge, Liz Martin, Jesse Redwing and an array of other local talent.

Our live Recovery Series has been a platform for locals and businesses to connect, and we look forward to reinventing this experience as both an online and in person series of networking events in 2021. Seen by over 40,000 viewers, the shows featured guests including our Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, local MP Alex Greenwich, Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully as well as local artists, performers, community leaders and business owners. You can watch all the episodes and feature interviews via the video section of the Surry Hills Creative Precinct Facebook page.

The Surry Hills Creative Precinct also welcomed new board new members including: Jimmy Wong, Liz Clarke, Amelia Birch, Megan Douglas, Angela Stretch and Orlando Sydney. We look forward to their contributions to the precinct during 2021.

Shopping local just got better – the Local Rewards Gift Card program also launched recently. Supported by the City of Sydney, the program has over 100 participating local businesses on-board and with hundreds of Gift Cards sold and distributed through the community. If you’d like to be part of it, visit www.localrewards.com.au

It’s been a tough year for Sydneysiders, and an unprecedented and challenging time for local businesses. It’s been inspiring to see how people have looked out for one another across the community.

Many residents and business owners have been helping our homeless and marginalised community, as well as our disadvantaged youth. There must be learnings from Covid, and I truly hope that being great, more caring neighbours is a permanent silver lining of a year that has impacted each and every one of us.

As we head into the holiday period, remember the importance of shopping locally, and the real impact this has on our precincts economic health and vibrancy. Until 2021, have a wonderful break, stay safe and take care of each other. Mike.