In 2008, the lockout laws was introduced in Newcastle in a shortsighted bid to curb violence, drunkenness and general loutish behaviour. What it did instead was to simply spread this behaviour into areas not within the lockout zone, while also presenting a new violent problem, when thousands of people are ejected from clubs and pubs at the exact same time and all spill into the streets, frustrated and all looking for a taxi, trying to hop on crowded buses, or into unreliable trains.
It doesn’t need to be spelled out how brutally these lockout laws have decimated the night time economy here in Sydney. Jobs have been lost, once thriving pubs have been forced to close, and developers and politicians have successfully used the very-expected level of violence in the Kings Cross area as a veil under which to disguise their true intentions for this — not coincidentally — prime real estate.
But I digress.
Also launched in 2008 was Renew Newcastle, an initiative where unused storefronts are rented to artistic types for a nominal amount. These spaces — once boarded up bridal stores and the like — quickly transformed into art galleries, record stores, bookstores, fashion hubs, cafes, restaurants, curated clothing stores – and the whole of Hunter Street was soon teeming with life.