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June 8, 2022

What happened to the Night Mayor?

Two years after Adelaide city councillors asked the administration to investigate an “advocate” for the city’s billion-dollar nightlife, they were last night told to ditch the idea and go for a “vision” instead.

  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Main image: Rundle Street by Johnny von Einem

A recently published report by the City of Adelaide recommended that elected members forgo an advocate for the CBD’s 6pm—6am economy, and instead adopt a “vision” and “strategic response” to support the social, cultural and economic activities occurring during this time.

“It is considered that a dedicated Night-Time Advocate (or Night-Time Advisory Committee) for the CoA is not warranted at this time,” the Rebuilding Adelaide’s Night Life report says.

“CoA does not have an agreed strategic vision for the NTE.

“Council may wish to consider a strategic response (such as strategy, policy or framework) to inform current activities.”

A review of the city’s policy framework is underway, the report states, with the results set to be presented to the council in August.

Elected members supported a call for a nighttime advocate, sometimes referred to as a Night Mayor, in June 2020 as a means of resuscitating the city’s late-night sector from the economic consequences of COVID-19.

Business owners will say that COVID is not done. They will tell you they are still feeling the effects.
⁠—Jaclyn Thorne

Last year, the administration revived the pitch by going to councillors and asking what kind of Night Mayor they envisioned for the role.

But the recently published report says the CoA already had mechanisms in place to support the recovery of the city and the NTE – with a “broad focus” on returning residents, businesses and visitors – so the advocate or committee was not warranted.

Following the June 2020 decision, the City of Adelaide established the Adelaide Economic Development Agency, which began operating in January 2021.

This agency aims to accelerate economic growth in the city by attracting new investment, supporting businesses and working with relevant agencies and organisations to deliver a range of programs designed to stimulate growth.

Initiatives delivered by the organisation since its inception include three hospitality and experience voucher campaigns, an events recovery fund, and a digital marketplace.

But the City of Adelaide’s report says “AEDA’s current Business Plan 2021-2022 does not identify a priority focus on the NTE”.

Last night, North Ward councillor Phil Martin asked what ideas AEDA had for the late-night economy.

“We as a council have agreed to form with considerable costs $13 million in 2022-23 something called the Adelaide Economic Development [Agency] to find solutions for economic activity in the City of Adelaide to drive the economy new initiatives,” he told the chamber.

“Now, I don’t remember that we said it would only be when the sun is up. I thought we said the whole city the whole time.


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“Where is the Adelaide Economic Development [Agency] on this matter? There’s nothing to hear from them.”

AEDA is currently promoting late-night events as part of its ADL Unleashed program, which is a joint initiative between AEDA, the State Government and City of Adelaide.

Associate director of Park Lands, Policy and Sustainability Sarah Gilmour said the board received a presentation from AEDA in May around the issue, with takeaways included in the report.

“There is a general view that there are some very good initiatives that are occurring through the City of Adelaide and through AEDA, and we believe that on balance those things are serving us well during the day and at night,” Gilmour said.

“The support that we believe we have is to build a strategic approach to nighttime economy and whether that’s a standalone reason or whether that forms a broader economic piece.

“That is the direction we believe that we will investigate.”

Gang Gang on Hindley Street. This picture: Johnny von Einem


The comments came after Jaclyn Thorne, director of McGregor Tan Research – a market research agency – warned councillors many business owners were still reeling from the effects of COVID-19.

“It’s really interesting because business owners will say that COVID is not done,” she said.

“They will tell you they are still feeling the effects, but talking to the general population, there’s a general sense that it is done.”

The company was commissioned to conduct an investigation into the views of city employers, city workers and consumers and their relationship to the postcode 5000 after a council decision in January.

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