Summer Night Fund Program

About the program

Public space is where we share our stories and values, and where we forge the ties that bind us. Over summer (2020-2021), the NSW Government supported close to 100 councils to activate almost 100 hectares of public space by running 397 free, safe activations and events, creating opportunities for people to connect.

Building on this success, the department offered funding to all NSW councils under The Festival of Place Summer Night Fund for free, COVID-Safe activations or events in public spaces in local centres as part of the NSW Government’s efforts to re-energise our local centres in the evening and at night as we emerged from lockdowns in 2021.

Every council in NSW was eligible to sign up for up to $15,000 for free activations or events that enliven public spaces in the evening or at night.

The objectives of the Summer Night Fund program were to:

  • Support community wellbeing by giving people opportunities to safely return to public spaces
  • Activate the evening and night time economy in public spaces in and around high streets across the state
  • Boost foot traffic and dwell time in local centres
  • Support job creation for creative and hospitality sectors
  • Enable longer-term activation of public spaces through minor amenity upgrades and regulatory changes.

Examples of activations or events delivered through the program include: 

  • Creative lighting shows or projections
  • Events like outdoor markets, micro-festivals or open-air cinemas
  • Galleries opening up late with entertainment and workshops
  • Creative or discovery tours and walks
  • Street parties and festivals 

Previous Summer Fund program

Almost 100 councils participated in the program. Here are a few highlights of public spaces brought to life thanks to the Summer Fund.

Blacktown City Council - Our Kids' Place

A pop-up park on Patrick Street in Blacktown’s CBD provided a space for kids in the city centre and encouraged families to visit and stay. The space was programmed with performances, storytelling, workshops and more, providing an opportunity for people to engage and connect. The project attracted over 600 people to the centre over summer and received strong support from local businesses, as the programs helped to maintain safety and encourage positive and healthy social behaviour.

Temora Shire Council - Temora Creative Expo

Temora Shire’s Creative Expo brought to life high streets, Paleface Park and public facilities including Temora Shire Town Hall, Rural Museum and Historic Woolshed. The Expo ran creative workshops including cooking, printmaking, chocolate making, photography, crochet and more, providing an opportunity for the local community to engage in creative education for free and helped council establish ongoing workshops and classes through the year.

Council received feedback that the event had a positive impact on the community’s mental health and helped to generate potential employment opportunities for workshop facilitators and creative workers. Council emphasised how much the Festival of Place contributed to its community, saying “supporting regional creatives has so many positive and ongoing benefits for rural and isolated communities like Temora”.

Narrabri Shire Council - Narra-BRIGHT CBD Pilot Activation

Council used funding to pilot a night-time activation, with light shows illuminating Maitland Street facades in Narrabri’s CBD. The pilot complemented the NSW Government’s Outdoor Dining trial, providing an opportunity to transform and enliven the public space, boosting foot traffic and dwell time in the centre at night.

Council boosted evening trading by engaging 18 retailers creating 27 window displays along Maitland street. The pilot saw a tripling of average daily sales  during the 3-hour activation period.

Edward River Council - J-Milla free Live Concert

300 visitors gathered in Deniliquin’s new outdoor amphitheatre on George Street to enjoy a free concert and workshops featuring hip hop artist, J-Milla. Council worked in partnership with South West Arts, South West Music and Deniliquin High School students to deliver music workshops and a live concert. Funding supported creative and cultural organisations to extend their live music programs and support employment of local artists, benefiting the local music sector and providing a reason for the community to visit and stay.

Eurobodalla Shire Council - Regeneration

Regeneration was an immersive performance experience held in Quota Park in partnership with Narooma Youth Theatre, Narooma Chamber of Commerce, and the local Mens Shed. A year after the devastating bushfires, these original performances brought positive stories to the community, creating an opportunity to celebrate with light relief and dwell in the stunning Wagonga Inlet precinct of Narooma.

Council relied on a temporary amendment to the Exempt and Complying Codes SEPP, which meant that council did not need a development application to set up temporary installations and fencing for the performances. Council observed that they would not have been able to proceed without the amendment, given the time constraints.

Inner West Council - Light Up the Town Halls

Light Up the Town Halls featured projections and audio on the Balmain Town Hall Facades in celebration of the local Aboriginal community. The project supported engagement and employment of creative workers and producers. Over 2,000 visitors across 10 days gathered to hear the stories of Baludarri (Balmain)’s local Aboriginal narratives projected onto the Town Hall in a truth-telling project. The project provided an opportunity for people to safely return to their public spaces, with some of the community commenting on the excitement around seeing public activations occurring again.

Previous program resource


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Please note that since the 1 April 2022 the Public Spaces branch from the Department of Planning and Environment was transitioned to TfNSW and renamed Cities Revitalisation and Place. The ‘Contact us’ mailboxes and are managed by the Cities Revitalisation and Place team.