Freedom of expression and the space to do it. That’s what Europe offers the creative.
Let’s start at the extreme end of the spectrum – Hamburg. The G20 protests brought with them a load of violence and civil disobedience. But they also revealed a city that was not willing to lie down and take what figures like Trump and Putin represent. Whilst I found myself in the crossfire of some hair-raising skirmishes between police and protestors, I couldn’t help but be affected by the screams of a city that has already had to rebuild itself once when power got out of hand.
To escape the mayhem, I jumped on a train to Amsterdam for a long weekend (Grabarz was closed for the G20 and what turned out to be more-than-legitimate security concerns).
Amsterdam is a creative’s paradise. A stroll through the iconic Vondel Park revealed an open-air theatre where a troupe of contemporary dancers were performing. Completely free, just grab a beer and enjoy. A ferry over to Amsterdam Noord unearthed a warehouse converted into shared art-spaces, some of the most mazing murals I’ve ever seen and an alternative community that live on what was, for all intents and purposes, a Pirate Ship.
Next weekend, I head to Berlin. A city where every corner drips in artwork.
Surrounded by so much unadulterated free speech and creativity, I wonder where my own city will make room for the same?
In Sydney, I watch helplessly as iconic hubs like Kings Cross are extinguished, laws are enacted prohibiting the purchase of a bottle of wine after 10pm and public performance that is watered down to a council-approved guitar player in Pitt St Mall.
I once heard that life begins at the edge of our comfort zone. So if culture and creativity are going to hit the heights I hope for my hometown, we must loosen the reins a little. It may be scary at first, but it will be worth it.