Video art at the Serpent Festival. Photo: Michael Crane

Posted by & filed under Featured Inner West Independent, Inner West Independent.


A war of light sabres between Destination NSW’s Vivid Sydney festival and the Inner West Council has seen the popular festival outdrawn by the westies as they proclaim their own EDGE festival.

The spat started a couple of months ago when the Inner West Council inquired to Destination NSW to investigate the licensing of Vivid Sydney for their precincts in 2019.

They were shocked when they realised that to bring Vivid Sydney to the inner west was going to come with a very large cost.

“Destination NSW is not seeking a licence fee from the Inner West Council to be part of Vivid Sydney, but there are associated costs for any LGA or third party wanting to be involved in the festival,” spokesperson Destination NSW said.

In a press release Inner West Council Mayor Darcy Byrne said “The NSW Government wanted to charge Council more than $1.1 million to be part of Vivid Sydney.”

City Hub has unconfirmed information suggesting that the charges to Inner West Council would have included a fee of $100,000 for ideas and $200,000 for music.

“Destination NSW outlined the estimated costs to Council from a creative, event management and financial perspective, including costs such as traffic management fees, security cost, risk assessment feeds, artists and creative fees, marketing costs and of course, insurance,” a spokesperspon for Destination NSW said.

Feelings about the proposed charges ran high until Inner West Councillor Anna York proposed a solution that did not include Vivid Sydney but instead would give the Inner West its own festival, called EDGE.

“I’m not interested in getting into a fight with Destination NSW but there seems to be an unreasonable cost for us to bear,” Cr Anna York, Inner West Council said.

It makes a lot of sense for the Inner West to go it alone, as its precincts contain some of Sydney’s major arts and creative industries and it has a large population of artists and musicians.

The Inner West is also home Legs on the Wall, the NSW Writers Centre and the Sydney College of the Arts.

Local musician and prospective EDGE participant Sam Marks said “It’s good to have a localised light festival because it brings interest into the local area and from the perspective of someone working in the local artistic community it helps foster communities of musicians and artists.”

While there are no dates set yet for EDGE, Cr York says “It will roll out over the course of the year and we are still looking at scheduling.”

Council has given the local arts scene a huge boost with a $600,000 budget for local street activations, light installations and live performance events.

“Vivid tends to bring in artists from overseas, and a lot of visual artists and new media artists are not really represented by them,” Michael Crane, video producer said.

Some of the concepts that Council is discussing with artists include lighting up the Sydenham/Marrickville precinct, projections of local histories and contemporary cultures in Ashfield and light projections along Iron Cove Bay and Canal Road.

“It gives the creative community a showcase for their work and a chance to engage with the broader community,”Cr York said.

The failed negotiations with Destinations NSW has brought with it the opportunity for the Inner West to support their own creative community and forge a festival with its own local identity.

Seems like a big win.