Sydney Wanting to ‘Rebrand’ a Bunch of Suburbs Is Everything Wrong With This City

nsw government and the city of city want to rename and rebrand a bunch of suburbs

Hang on to your activewear, Sydney is plumbing the depths of cringe in order to ‘rebrand’ itself as cool once again by renaming a bunch of suburbs.

The NSW government has announced $200,000 funding boosts for 21 districts across 8 local government areas to boost their ‘going-out’ potential.

These ‘Uptown Grants’ are designed to support “the emergence of youth culture, a local arts and music scene and amplifying and connecting existing offerings in the community,” according to John Graham, Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy.

It’s unclear whether he began his announcement by asking, “How do you do, fellow kids?” or landed a sick kickflip as he departed.

The grants themselves provide funding to local venues to hire more help to increase their event offerings, their visibility, and the overall quality of their operations. This is a modest step toward correcting decades of neglect but Sydney’s nighttime economy will take all the help it can get.

Sydney used to be one of the coolest after-dark spots on the planet. For the young or chemically altered, you could party right through from Friday night to 9.00am on a Monday, and would never have to come up for air. It was from this mad melting pot that bands like The Presets, Midnight Oil, and AC/DC emerged.

However, ever since Sydney’s curfew laws came into effect, which decimated the city’s nightlife but made a lot of developers very rich, getting a schooner past 11pm can be a challenge.

This is something successive governments and Mayor Clover More have been seeking to address with moderate success. Failing to adopt a proactive approach and stop venues from succumbing to soaring rates, noise complaints, and other gentrification pressures would have perhaps made the waves of funding and initiatives unnecessary, but at least it is being looked at with a degree of concern.

Sydney Suburb Renames

Now for the main attraction: The new names that the NSW government thought would be a good idea to slap on existing suburbs.

Brookvale, the surfy, brewery suburb in the Northern Beaches, will henceforth be known as ‘Brookvale Arts District’ or, and I’m not kidding, ‘BAD’.

Central station and the areas around Eddy Avenue will now be called, simply, ‘Eddy’. As in, “I’m heading down to Eddy for a cheeky lunchtime rave.”

Green Square, fast becoming one of the most densely populated and least connected suburbs in Sydney as the highrises mount and the developers cash in, is going to be called Green². Is that ‘Green to the power of two’, ‘Green squared’, or ‘Green small two’. No is certain. Chaos reigns.

Surry Hills will no longer be known as Surry Hills. It will instead be called HQ Sydney. That stands for, you’d never guess it, ‘Hollywood Quarter Sydney’ and not ‘High-Quality Sydney’. You know, because when you’re in Surry Hills, you often think, ‘Man, I could totally be in Hollywood right now’.

Kings Cross is now KXQ, an acronym that only the most bureaucratically-minded could have possibly dreamt up. The screams of the child in The Simpsons begging Krusty the Clown to stop hitting the Krusty Burglar ring loud: “Stop, stop, he’s already dead!”

What’s more, a tonne of the other names are similarly awful. We no longer have Paddington, we have the ‘Paddo Collective’. Blacktown has been colonised by the dining precinct ‘The Gathering’ and will now be known as such — although we really should think about renaming that place anyway.

Hornsby is being fast-tracked into our post-apocalyptic future known simply as 2077 A.D. Pyrmont has become a maths equation or possibly the title of the next Ed Sheeran record with the name ‘Pyrmont+Ultimo27/7’.

Perhaps reaching its final stage of evolution and the developer’s wet dream we always knew we’d eventually be living in, Sydney Harbour is now ‘New Sydney Waterfront Company District Team’.

It seems the NSW government learnt nothing from the Bureau of Meteorology fiasco. In 2022, the government department formerly known as ‘the BOM’ decided they should spend thousands on a rebranding campaign and demand everyone stop calling them by their well-known acronym. Lesson number one: You can’t force a nickname and, if you do, you’ll be laughed into submission, as the BOM promptly were.

The Rebrand That Isn’t a Rebrand

In fairness, and for the sake of legal absolution, these names are not actually what the suburbs will be renamed. They are simply the names of the projects that recipients of the Uptown Grants have given their ideas to bolster the culture of these areas.

That should have been made clear at the start of the article, but it’s something I only picked up on after my fifth read of this confusing press release, and I’ll be dammed if I’m going to re-think my ironic take now.

Regardless of the fact that we have actually been spared having to utter these abominations in general conversation, the top-down approach to culture from on high is symptomatic of precisely the approach that got Sydney into the mess it’s in today.

Sydney’s original sprawling maze of winding streets flooded with music and good times grew up organically over hundreds of years. Governments stepping in to artificially cultivate ‘culture’ – whatever that means – have a way of clipping the wings of the radical, the offensive, and the weird: the very essence of what makes nightlife unique and enjoyable.

Instead, we’re left with cordoned-off, carefully defined ‘fun’ contained within limited parameters. The paid-for light exhibits at this year’s VIVID are a prime example, as was the police decision to close the street parties around Surry Hills after 2.00am following the Pride march.

What the curfew laws and the prioritisation of profit over people has wrought upon Sydney will not be undone with a few million in handouts. Not while the prevailing ideology that Sydney for the wealthy with strict bedtimes and tennis at 6.00am prevails. The very concept of a ‘rebrand’ is completely anathema to a naturally flourishing subcultural identity.

It’s little wonder that ‘youth culture’ has long taken matters into its own hands, creating its own spaces of celebration, hidden the bounds of the law, much to the annoyance of those paid to uphold said laws.

The city’s ‘cultural drivers’ can and will use this cash for the betterment of this beautiful former haven. Politicians bearing consultant-crafted slogans like Green² would do well to keep their distance.

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