Renew Newcastle is an innovative project that transformed an empty CBD into a lucrative creative hub by occupying vandalized or decaying commercial space until the shops are viable again.
This unique scheme started in 2008 by Marcus Westbury, a broadcaster, writer, media maker and festival director born in Newcastle and eager to find a solution to this decaying city that was once an exiting industrial hub.
The project is designed to bring life back into the CBD by allowing artists, artisans, craftspeople and community groups to occupy those otherwise empty building until the property owner can find a commercial tenant. This enhances the cultural life of the city by creating activity of interest and improves the look, feel and desirability of the neighborhood.
The project relies on the support of property owners who have vacant buildings. Property owners can define the terms they wish to make a building available on, select the project that takes place in them, and can participate on either a long term or short term, typically 30 days on a rolling basis. The temporary tenant will undertake basic maintenance, remove graffiti, and ensure that the building is an asset rather than a liability. It is a win win situation. It gives artists a chance to try out their ideas and get their name out there. Property owners get their building looked after which helps minimize crime and vandalism to their property. It also stimulates business, make the neighborhood more desirable and help attract commercial prospects.
The idea is spreading
Over 100 projects in Newcastle have had the opportunity to test their creative ideas. Renew Newcastle has been the inspiration for empty space revitalization schemes across the country, like Renew Adelaide, Renew Townsville, Made in Geelong and Pop-up Parramatta. Marcus Westbury has now developed Renew Australia to provide training, consultancy and support services to businesses, governments and community groups engaged in the creative activation of space. http://www.renewaustralia.org/