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What makes a good renew Sydney project?

There is no simple answer to that question but here are a few things that work for us:

It adds life to the city – The whole point of Renew Sydney is to bring vacant spaces back to life. For shopfronts we need projects that will bring people to an area, that will be open most of the time and will bring a smile to people’s faces! Projects that are about using shopfronts for storage, or offices, or things that are rarely opened or hidden away are not the best use for a vacant space.

It is unique – Renew Sydney is not about turning the city into another suburban shopping centre or filling every shop with one type of gallery. It is about making Sydney a place with a wide variety of unique creative things and energies and getting the best of Sydney out and on display. Projects that showcase people making and presenting original things in Sydney really tick our boxes.

It has a high degree of professionalism or a very clear idea – We have a limited number of spaces available so our highest priority will go to people who are serious about what they are doing and have a very clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. A shopfront may not be the best place to try out a new idea — our spaces are more suitable for people who are trying to take what they do to another level. The more you can demonstrate that you know what you are doing and why you are doing it, the easier it is for us to get behind it.

It is ongoing – Renew Sydney is after projects that will make ongoing uses of the spaces. If you are after a space for a single exhibition, for a few hours a day or for a series of classes or workshops, we would encourage you to look into other options as we don’t have the resources to administer this kind of usage.

It is ready – Taking on a shopfront or opening an office or studio can be a major commitment. Renew Sydney is keen to support people who are ready to take that step up but it can be a major commitment if you aren’t prepared for it. Ideal projects are ones where it is the logical next step based on what you’ve already been doing, and not a leap into the unknown.

It has the support of the property owner – Renew Sydney doesn’t own or control any properties. For a project to happen it needs someone with a suitable property to get behind it. If we don’t have a space that fits it we can’t make it happen.

What does Renew Sydney do?

Renew Sydney brings transitional buildings in Sydney to life again. Property owners license their buildings or shopfronts to Renew Sydney while they have no tenants or are awaiting redevelopment.

Renew Sydney manages the short-term use of these spaces, we provide Public Liability Insurance, can assist with basic maintenance (a fresh coat of paint, a clean and fixing up the broken windows) and cover basic insurances while the buildings are in Renew Sydney’s care.

Renew Sydney supports the property owner to the maximum extent possible to ensure that their involvement is tax effective and their contribution is seen as a positive contribution to the community. Renew Sydney then finds “custodians” who use the buildings for cultural, creative and community purposes until the owner finds a permanent tenant or a redevelopment is ready to proceed. We believe that activity is the single most important factor in turning around vandalism and decay of a vacant space.

Can I propose a single exhibition, or do I need to take over a shop for a while?

No, one-off events or occasional uses are generally not a good fit for the Renew model of activation. Renew Sydney is keen to hear from creative enterprises with short to medium-term plans that could be suitable to occupy a retail or commercial space in Sydney. Attractive uses would involve regular activity, operate for at least a month, and ideally have the intent to continue. This offers greater potential to contribute to the ongoing life of the local area, and is a better prospect for us.

For example, it is much easier for us to make a space available to an individual or collective that wants to run a gallery, and program a series of exhibitions, than it is for us to curate and organise exhibitions ourselves.

Can I live in a Renew Sydney property?

No, sorry.

How much do properties cost? Is it subsidised?

Renew Sydney trades lack of security for lack of rent. Selected projects will only be required to pay a minimal weekly participation fee to cover public liability insurance and minor maintenance. They may also be required to cover outgoings incurred by them being there, such as water and electricity usage.

All Renew Sydney agreements will have review periods built into them. If a participant develops a commercial business and then starts to generate profits similar to commercial standards, their contract terms may progress towards commercial rental standards.

An aim of Renew Sydney is to nurture projects that will eventually be able to operate commercially without further support, although not all projects are expected to be commercial. Not for profit projects that will bring activity to the area are also encouraged to apply.

Why creative enterprises?

Simply, creative enterprises and projects are great attractors! They add interest, originality and life to a precinct. Importantly, by targeting artists, “makers”, and a diverse variety of people that produce their own original work, Renew Sydney will attract unique offerings by enterprises that will not compete with existing businesses in the area. These new creative enterprises will create interest and attract new visitors to Sydney.

How do the short-term licenses work?

Renew Sydney’s default agreement is not a lease but a licence. This permits access to the property on a rolling 30-day basis. Property owners can give 30-days’ notice at any time, which enables them to provide their property without sacrificing the potential commercial returns. This is one of the key reasons that properties are made available rent-free – and why this opportunity is best suited to creative enterprises wishing to experiment or test the viability of operating in a commercial space, not those who need the security of a lease.

As the initiative is based on temporary use, it is inevitable that projects will be given notice to vacate at some point. In the interim participants have the opportunity to incubate their own initiatives, simultaneously creating interest and activity in the area. There may be possibilities for fixed-term licences in the future, but projects are advised to plan on the basis of a rolling 30-day period of use.