According to a talk given by Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton last night, Sydney needs some of its old-time black magic back. As joint artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company the pair should be familiar with the disparity between Sydney’s scope and Sydney’s reach, especially when it comes to fostering and promoting the arts. She’s also, you know, an Academy Award winning actress so perhaps we should heed her suggestions. First, it should be noted that most of these ideas echo the findings of Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl who helped developed the Sustainable Sydney 2030 project in conjunction with the City of Sydney a few years back. From creating a pedestrian friendly CBD to promote traffic into and engagement with the city (seriously, it’s like a ghost town sometimes) to supporting arts and creativity and developing specialized cultural precincts, most of these fixes have been detailed before. Alongside Sydney’s other well-worn shortcomings – inefficient public transport, skyrocketing rent, draconian liquor licensing laws – we should probably take Blanchett and Upton’s fixes under consideration too. Here’s five ways they think the city could improve.

That nebulous “black magic”: “Sydney in the 1980s was a city characterised as a place of live music. Every pub seemed to have gigs and everyone was trying to make music. Not only music, but comedy and poetry and stuff at the weirdest edges of performance. The Sydney Front? It must epitomise real adventure and risk-taking and, more to our point, that sense of an organic, vibrant art-making precinct that erupted around Surry Hills and Oxford Street and down into Redfern and Newtown.”

Overcome complacency: “At times Sydney can feel distant, uninterested, bored. At times you can feel the post-Olympic quandary. This is understandable and not a permanent thing. In the theatre, when you finish doing a show you often get sick and a bit blue. It’s an inherent part of making and doing and showing and finally letting go of the thing that had you in its grasp. Could it be that Sydney still has a little of those post-show blues and it is time to get on to the next adventure?”

Rethink zoning laws to foster creative communities: “More contentious might be some specific zoning. Assisted rent for artist studio spaces? Loosening of planning constraints to avoid or lessen the costs when adapting new spaces or, even better, sensible shortcuts through occupational health and safety requirements?”

Transport: “To state the obvious: transport, transport, transport.”

Perhaps most importantly, event recognition: “What else might help foster a creative and vibrant Sydney? Event recognition. Last year at Sydney Theatre Company we hosted Steppenwolf’s multiple Tony award-winning August: Osage County. Later on the same stage, one of the finest casts assembled in Australia (John Bell, Richard Roxburgh, Jackie Weaver, Hugo Weaving et al) came together for Uncle Vanya. These would be considered big cultural events in any city…there is so much here for Sydney to be proud of and yet, as events go, many seem to pass almost without notice. This would not happen in many other great cities. It’s all very well to hide your light under a bushel, but it’s a dreadful waste of energy, and what do you have when it is gone?”

OMG you guys, Sydney’s reluctant to congratulate herself? We’re all officially screwed.

Image: Dan Boud for Time Out Sydney