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Monday, June 07, 2010

Surry Hills is city's hot spot of creativity, GPS study reveals.

Surry Hills is a Mecca to Sydney's artists.

That's the preliminary findings of a study that ''tagged'' a group of designers with satellite technology and tracked their movements around Sydney, in an attempt to find out where the people who fuel Sydney's creative economy live, work and play.

Fifteen designers wore small GPS tracking devices, similar to the ones used in cars, for several days, which recorded their location every five seconds.

While the fact that almost everyone in the first group of 15 visited the inner-city artistic hub of Surry Hills will come as little surprise, the study found other areas like the lower north shore or south-west rated strongly, too.

The results, said the head of the study, Wollongong University's Professor Chris Gibson, suggest state and local governments may need to rethink where public galleries, artists' studios and other pieces of ''creative infrastructure'' are located in the future.

''The story that we're getting is that there is a more complex geography to their activities than you might expect,'' he said.

''It tells different councils that they're part of the creative economy … incubating the creative industry should not just be left to the City of Sydney or Marrickville Council.''

Designer Simeon King, who admitted he was probably ''a stereotype'' because he lives in Glebe and works in Surry Hills, was one of the participants in the study. He said he would consider moving further west in Sydney if the cultural activities and spaces were there to support the arts.

''You need to move some of the critical cultural infrastructure out there,'' he said. ''Otherwise there is always going to be this magnetism towards the inner city.''

The findings of the pilot study, called Catch and Release, were presented as part of the Creative Sydney program at the Vivid festival on Saturday.

Urban planner Rod Simpson told the audience former industrial areas such as Surry Hills and Newtown were once natural homes for the creative industries because of their mix of cheap, dense housing, small warehouses and bustling, cosmopolitan main streets.

The Catch and Release project will tag the movements of several other creative industries in the coming months.

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