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Renew Canberra?

By johnboy 3 February 2011 28

The Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur is kicking off a push to emulate the very successful Renew Newcastle where vacant commercial properties are made available for artistic endeavours.

“It’s a simple, innovative initiative that will bring local arts and music to vacant city areas, improve the life and vitality of the city, improve the creative and night time economy, and help address the perception that Canberra is too formal and sterile,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“The Greens costed three years of funding for the program and put the initiative to Government as a formal submission to the 2011 ACT Budget.

There will now be a 10-day trial of the initiative, under which Canberra’s vacant office space in the city is used for short and medium term arts, music and community projects.

“We’re really pleased the Government will start with a 10-day trial after a year long campaign by the Greens for ‘Renew Canberra’.

“While we welcome the 10 day trial, we believe that ‘Renew Canberra’ needs to be given time to grow.

“The program could be run for 3 years at a cost of $50,000 per year, with an additional $50,000 in the first year for start up costs. This is an affordable arts initiative that would improve the vibrancy of our city,” Ms Le Couteur said.

Canberra’s inner city certainly has room for improvement. But it’s hard to compare it to a de-industrialising industrial city. Is there much we can realistically take from the Newcastle model?

What’s Your opinion?


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Renew Canberra?
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DermottBanana 4:47 pm 26 Aug 11

In Newcastle, the Renew project was primarily about getting special leases drawn up so transient, arty vendors could use properties which were dormant. The rental payments were not particularly lower than normal tenancies, the focus was on the short-term, temporary nature of the arrangements. The background was also that the properties were not idle a few months, but quite often a decade or more.
Canberra’s CBD is a completely different place, and so it’s most unlikely a similar idea could work, especially in the timeframes being suggested by Le Coutier. And if Canberra were serious about doing something of this sort, it’d be a much larger project, and realistically, would need someone with the charisma and devotion of a Marcus Westbury (who set up RN).
Like most successful projects, RN’s being copied around the country by local governments who think they “get it” when they don’t. They’re just trying to leap on the bandwagon without knowing how it works, or how it might work in their community.
Not surprisingly, in Canberra, those leaping aboard said bandwagon are fringe-dwelling politicians.

Gus929 8:57 am 06 Feb 11

PM said :

So let me get this straight – you want to force property owners into releasing vacant areas to artists?

It’s not a question of forcing anyone. It’s putting in place a framework of rules and guarantees so building owners feel comfortable about voluntarily allowing their property be used for short term community/arts use. For free but with rules. It’s a pattern that’s worked in Newcastle, and I believe it’s now working in Adelaide and other cities right now too.

If you’re the owner of a long-term vacant building, especially if it needs a new fitout, then you don’t really have anything to lose, do you? It’s quite common for commercial tenants to take the fitout with them when they move, and/or do a whole new fitout when taking on a lease. Not to mention long-term vacant buildings that are being vandalised, or buildings awaiting demolition where noone even cares what happens to the inside.

PM 10:21 am 05 Feb 11

simsim said :

Yeah, exactly. The important thing for most performing artists (singers, actors, comedians) is just to find a venue where you’re not an annoyance to most of the audience – where the audience don’t want to talk over you. Frankly, we don’t want to intrude on your space any more than you want to intrude on ours.

And if a site isn’t being used for anything else, WHY NOT use it for art for a bit? If there’s a need for it to become something else, go for it… but another failed set of shops is not helping anybody.

So let me get this straight – you want to force property owners into releasing vacant areas to artists?

And to clarify, I was against the demolition of Macgregor Hall as previous posts on the topic will confirm. But that was a communitry space. I don’t believe the government should be involved in property owners’decisions about how that property is used.

wildturkeycanoe 8:30 am 05 Feb 11

The reason these properties are vacant is because they’re too expensive to rent. That said, $50,000 per year won’t get you very much space, especially in a good inner city location. If you were a landlord trying to get $100-$500 per square metre in rent, would you stick a jobless hippy with a bunch of paint pots in there and then take a potential tenant for a walk through? I think not. If you had a group of drum banging, guitar plucking entertainers singing out at 1 a.m I wonder what the upstairs neighbors would have to say about it? Instead of giving these spaces to those that already have a home, how about opening the doors to them that sleep underneath newspapers and beg for their meals everyday. There’s some money well spent.

Mysteryman 12:33 am 05 Feb 11

PM said :

The only reason people think Canberra is too formal and sterile is the frikkin’ politically correct Greens/Labor alliance continuously banning everything that’s fun!

Quoted for truth. They are a bunch of boring dorks.

spinact 9:23 pm 04 Feb 11

Felix said :

I have a proposal for the predictable brigade of knockers

Felix, be careful using the K word if you’re at work

Davo111 8:44 pm 04 Feb 11

i vote against the idea

simsim 8:10 pm 04 Feb 11

Yeah, exactly. The important thing for most performing artists (singers, actors, comedians) is just to find a venue where you’re not an annoyance to most of the audience – where the audience don’t want to talk over you. Frankly, we don’t want to intrude on your space any more than you want to intrude on ours.

And if a site isn’t being used for anything else, WHY NOT use it for art for a bit? If there’s a need for it to become something else, go for it… but another failed set of shops is not helping anybody.

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