Wollongong creative spaces scheme pitched

Wollongong City Council has made a pitch to business owners, encouraging them to allow artists to take up temporary residence in vacant shops in the CBD.

Speaking at last week's City Centre Business and Property Owners Forum, the council's community and cultural development manager, Sue Savage, said business owners and artists would benefit from the scheme, known as Wollongong Creative Spaces.

Similar projects have been successful in other regions in the state, such as Re-new Newcastle and Art in the Heart in Lismore.

Ms Savage said the scheme was a good opportunity for artists to showcase their work and gave them the opportunity to be in a good location short term.

However, one previous participant cast doubt on how well the project could work in its current form.

Wollongong resident Trina Collins attempted to create a community gallery under the scheme.

She said she spent three months renovating a mould-infested store, only to be told the premises had been leased once she had finished, meaning she and other artists had to leave.

She was then given the opportunity to turn the neighbouring property, owned by the same landlord, into the gallery but the same thing happened.

"We think it was used for us to do up the space for them for free," Ms Collins said. "Once we'd done that we got the boot."

"The fact of the matter is this [Creative Spaces] has been talked about for five years and only two or three people have done it."

Ms Collins said in order for the scheme to work, there needed to be a guaranteed time during which the artist could inhabit the space.

The council will liaise with owners and real estate agents to facilitate the temporary use of the spaces, and develop a register of potential locations.

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