By 5.30pm most people leave work, head to their bus or car, and make their way home in a frustrating rush hour. By 6.30 on a week night many town centers are relatively empty. It’s a wasted opportunity to showcase lifestyle features of the local community and something most regions want to fix.
Surprisingly the night time economy often accounts for 10% of employment, but growing this is good for locals and visitors alike. Australia’s nigh time economy is worth a staggering $92 billion but imagine if just a few more people stayed a couple of extra hours in your local town centre. That’s less congestion when you do head home and a city centre that has the vibe we all want.
But what would they do? Bars and pubs are great as they offer a different experience to nightclubs. It’s a social environment offering entertainment for a broader demographic which is beginning to support a diverse live music scene.
However staying later generally means having a drink. There are not many alternatives and that is what both cities need to address. Hospitality and alcohol have a role to play but it’s important to cater for the city workers and residents that want an attractive substitute. Tourists too want experiences that are unique and memorable. More things to do at dusk will also make local communities look and feel different, attract a broader range of people and give the centre more “mojo”.
Making the city a great destination does not have to be an expensive experience. A jog in parklands, coffee with a friend or outdoor cinema costs little and is a better alternative than channel surfing on the couch. More live music or the local art gallery and museum opening longer are also things that will change a city’s vibe.
An evening economy that makes it easier for entrepreneurs to start up small, local venues is also important. Red tape that has is a barrier needs to be cut and constructive collaboration with small business is essential to good government. However this will only becoming the norm when businesses believe government have a clear investment strategy that recognises the value of the night time economy.
There is no one magic bullet and governments cannot solve the problems alone. Work should always include improvements in transport, safety, lighting and event diversity, however engaging the community is also vital as we must all be a part of bringing life and culture to our communities.