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    Spreading your creative wings

    Deborah Singerman

    Creative spaces are synonymous with spaces for creatives.

    One of the latest is in the Sydney Lower North Shore suburb of St Leonards, found in buildings slated for redevelopment in a couple of years but in the meantime put to good use as galleries, studios for art, photography, music recordings, and rooms for workshops and regular meetings.

    BrandX manages this creative precinct for Auswin TWT Development, part of the TWT Group, a self-proclaimed “international company focused on developing quality living environments”. It sees the TWT Creative Precinct as a “vibrant new initiative” which TWT general manager, Stephen Fitzpatrick, hopes will become a “major turning point in the cultural landscape” of this part of Sydney.

    For BrandX director James Winter, however, it is also about turning these otherwise empty spaces “into something that artists can use to work and, in turn, contribute to the cultural life of the area.”

    “Our business is primarily to make space for artists creating an authentic repurposing of otherwise underutilised space. The aim is to create practical and unique environments, which overall become a precinct with a diversity of applications to inspire interest from the public and local artists,” he says.

    As with its six other precincts in Sydney’s inner city and inner west, the 10-year-old Brand X aims to respond to existing cultural activities and assets in the area, and curate new creative start-ups to complement and benefit existing businesses and artists. They audit the local area first, researching its history and finding distinctive ways to activate the suburb.

    Public engagement is not essential in all activated areas here, Winter says, hence the mix of galleries open to the public and more private working studios for artists.

    Images: TWT St Leonards

    Close to the station, it is not obvious that such a precinct exists in Atchison Street, St Leonards, although the October launch party was lively and benefited from BrandX’s membership base of some 3,000 professional working artists, its strong presence on social media and successful partnerships with other arts organisations across NSW. BrandX plans for more events, such as block-parties and workshop programs alongside exhibition openings.

    “Our main concern is making sure creative practitioners know that these resources are available to them,” Winter says. “We measure our success firstly on the calibre and number of artists we service and then on the audiences to engage in the outcomes of the artists’ work. Our hope is that these new audiences then explore neighbouring businesses and institutions to support the local economy and give other locals an opportunity to see their neighbourhood in a new light and build a sense of pride in their community, their people and the collective potential of the region (in which) they live.”

    A more established cultural hub on William Street will see Object gallery celebrate its first 50 years with events, exhibitions, and other offerings such as having emerging designers and influential women in Australian design mark the expected May opening of what will be its brand new venue, owned by the City of Sydney.

    The gallery appointed Those Architects to create the shop front, street presence and multi-purpose gallery, creative work spaces and education space. Object will occupy the ground floor spaces in the new building, which will include HUB Sydney, design label Romance was Born, as well as a selection of architects, designers and artists-in-residence.

    Image: Object

    Another new creative space , this time in the heart of the city, is the result of an agreement between the City and Chinese-based developer Greenland Australia. There will be a $25 million, 2,000 square metre creative hub for dance, theatre, music, film and visual arts on a 99-year lease at a peppercorn rent within the mainly residential and hotel tower on the corner of Pitt and Bathurst streets. 

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