The Rocks Village Bizarre – Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority


Project: The Rocks Village Bizarre 
Organisation: Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority  
Place: The Rocks 
Year: 2014  
Project Type: Curating and Programming, Night-time Economy 

Transforming the nighttime economy through arts and cultural activation:

For many years, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) ran an evening music and market activation offering in The Rocks. However customer satisfaction and attendance at the event was waning and the activation did not represent the brand pillars for the precinct. Furthermore, the precinct had become stigmatised with a reputation for excessive drinking and antisocial behaviour, creating a precarious night time economy.

As the cultural lead for the public domain programming Michael Cohen initiated a significant transformation of this event series. The Rocks’ brand pillars of ‘curious, intimate and savouring’ were developed and The Rocks Village Bizarre emerged as the brand champion product. The winding alleyways of The Rocks were transformed on a weekly basis in summer with a vast selection of intimate, quirky arts events. Hidden parks, building foyers, empty tenancies and hitherto neglected public domain became the locations for weekly pilgrimages by local working communities, residents and visitors.

Secret pop-up bars were housed in old terrace buildings, massive inflatable sculptures were sandwiched into tiny lanes and teams of artists were engaged to perform in the front windows of local retailers. The Rocks Village Bizarre increased its visitation to over 17,000 people per Friday evening and visitor satisfaction with the event rose significantly. The project provided a boon to the night time economy: retailers extended their opening hours, visitor stay and visitor spend in the precinct both significantly improved.


  • To generate Friday night-time economy
  • To create an event that reflected the precinct brand pillars of ‘curious and intimate’
  • To increase visitation to support local businesses


  • Event ran for 5 years and made The Rocks a popular friday night destination 
  • Event became renowned for distinctive, adventurous offer – positively impacting on precinct’s cultural identity
  • Average visitation of 17,000 people per friday night 


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