Business events and place making: the power of connections

GEOFF DONAGHY
CEO


In my role as CEO of ICC Sydney, every week is different. I was delighted to have recently joined my global peers, policy makers and leading city academics at the IMEX Policy Forum in Frankfurt for a collaborative leadership panel to discuss the business of placemaking.
Today, well planned business events and major venues play a significant role as the makers of a place and a catalyst for destination development. Here, connections play a powerful role from the physical to economic, cultural and social.
 
The physical environment
 
The physical set up of a venue is the first consideration of place making. As the nation’s premier events venue, ICC Sydney is a purpose-built, contemporary venue that provides all the flexibility, diversity of choice and premium quality demanded of an international convention centre.
 
Importantly, our venue seamlessly blends with the precinct around it. Laneways between the “big boxes” allow for easy pedestrian access and thoroughfare. Public art connects us to the cultural story outside, and ICC Sydney is also home to one of the nation’s most significant art collections.
 
A series of digital screens run along the pedestrian boulevard and act as integrators between us and the community by telling stories, sharing event details and providing community information.
 
ICC Sydney also acknowledges its place on Tumbalong, the land of the Gadigal clan of Eora nation, and celebrates First Nations art and culture across the precinct. A great example of this was when we commissioned an artwork by Jeffrey Samuels, renowned Aboriginal artist and Boomalli Aboriginal Artist’s Cooperative, and had it etched into the doors of ICC Sydney to welcome visitors.
 
Connecting with community
 
At ICC Sydney, we have also worked to inspire an improved sense of place in our harbour location by engaging, listening and connecting with the community around us.
 
We do this through our Legacy Program which creates enriching experiences for both clients and delegates – from facilitating university student engagement through to forging connections with Sydney’s creative industries ecosystem, providing opportunities for Aboriginal owned businesses, to donating recycled event items to charity partners, and more.
 
Through this same program we work with clients to minimise our environmental impact and ensure we operate as sustainably as possible.
 
This principle extends to our Feeding Your Performance philosophy which has been designed to not only reduce our carbon footprint, but celebrate our incredible local produce. Our culinary team source ingredients through a unique supply chain of farmers and producers, driving positive impact beyond the city borders and into regional New South Wales communities supporting job creation and economic development.
 

City-wide collaboration
 
ICC Sydney sits at the nexus of Sydney’s innovation and business precincts, its financial services hub and one of its key entertainment precincts. In particular, our business plays a key role in stimulating discussion about the future of the Western Harbour Precinct, the next bay along from Circular Quay which boasts the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
 
Our bay boasts a host of waterside dining establishments, entertainment and tourism venues, museums and cultural centres and parklands alongside our magnificent venue. Collectively, we welcome 25 million people each year and have banded together to elevate the profile of the area and further improve visitor experiences.
 
Working hand-in-hand with policymakers
 
Alongside our strongly held relationships with our neighbours and the private sector, to demonstrate the value of our industry, it’s critical to align with policy makers and set an example that other communities and venues can emulate.
 
We need to continue to keep all tiers of government informed to ensure their continued support and recognition of the value that we contribute to the broader community, whether that be about delegate spend, job creation or advancing the knowledge economy.
 
The IMEX Policy Forum was certainly a welcomed opportunity to share Sydney’s story and highlight the visual, economic and cultural benefits our place making has generated for the city.
 
The business events industry has an immensely positive impact on the community and the overall appeal of a destination and I am looking forward to continuing our teams widely recognised leadership.