As we hit the tail end of 2022 and draw closer to the biggest pride event to hit Australia, the LGBTQI hub of Sydney is currently in a precarious situation.
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, from Hyde Park to the Beacham Hotel there are currently 45 vacant shopfronts, with only 95 operating on Oxford Street.
With nearly a third of the once vibrant street gone, it’s come into question as to whether the LGBTQI hub can be renewed in time for WorldPride 2023.
Retired owner of the restaurant Belloccio, Colin Paull spoke bluntly about Oxford Street’s dire state to the Herald, saying that a decade ago “we had a great mix, now it’s very sad.”
“It’s used as a thoroughfare only. Every business is suffering. The locals don’t support the strip,” he said.
Oxford Street Nightlife Still Alive
And while the street hasn’t flat-lined yet, its’ nightlife still thriving as long queues have been seen at clubs like Cliff Dive, Universal and Palms on Saturday nights. But the difference between the day and nightlife on Oxford Street is glaringly obvious.
The City of Sydney council and organisers of WorldPride are aware of the issue, but time seems to be their biggest enemy. It’s projected that tens of thousands of interstate and international travellers will fill Sydney’s streets for what is coined to be the city’s biggest event since the 2000 Olympics.
CEO of WorldPride Sydney 2023, Kate Wickett has said that despite the pandemic “delaying the redevelopment works on Oxford Street” funding from the NSW Government and possibly the City of Sydney, Oxford Street “will be fabulous come February 2023.”
“Like all nightlife districts, Oxford Street is recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, so the fact we have talk of iconic venues like Arq nightclub looking to re-open is a pretty remarkable turnaround,” she said.
“WorldPride will undoubtedly be a major win for Oxford Street businesses, as not only will the Mardi Gras Parade return to the street, but we will have 10 days of Pride Villages surrounding the area, with stalls, stages and dining. Without [a] doubt, Pride Villages will be the biggest street activation ever witnessed in the inner city, and I cannot wait to see locals and visitors alike enjoying those Sydney summer nights.”
City of Sydney Council Working On It
City of Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore has reassured that staff members have been working with the festival’s organisers.
“To ensure we don’t have any blank windows on Oxford Street for WorldPride. That work is happening,” Moore confirmed during a recent council meeting. The revival of Oxford Street has been something the council has hoped for since the beginning of the year.
Deputy Lord Mayor Sylvie Ellsmore had spoken with City Hub back in April 2022, saying “everyone wants to renew and revive Oxford Street.”
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