We have a beautiful, and fairly old, city. But our beautiful city is changing. It’s population is growing and what we need from it is altering. The centre of our town needs our help.
Ballarat Evolve was initially supported in 2018 by the Ballarat Arts Foundation to see if there was appetite for the creation of an incentive program - linking creatives, artists and landlords and maximising the empty spaces across the city.
After investigating the sustainability of linking private businesses with micro-creative enterprises and artists, and permitting access to empty retail spaces throughout the regional city's central business district - we saw it was possible to fast tracking the city's evolution.
Taking learnings from the hugely successful Renew Newcastle and Renew Australia initiatives, and relying upon the advice and guidance of Arts Law Centre of Australia, Ballarat Evolve was borne out of genuine interest from local traders.
Interested groups started to notice the changing profile of the inner city streets, and a private initiative was undertaken. Volunteers logged empty retail environments in a selected area of the CBD, noting those buildings highlighted with a 'For Lease', 'For Sale' and those which were clearly empty. This was matched with attitudinal research of 220 individuals living, using and working in the heart of the city.
Over a trial period, a select group of four practising artists were housed in an Art Deco period house that had been recently used as doctor’s rooms. Now sitting idle, the house was kindly donated for the period of the trial.
Today, Ballarat Evolve has a growing selection of locations and environments for artists, makers, creators and businesses - with each individual going from strength to strength.
Ballarat Evolve Creative Industries is creating relationships of all kinds right across the city. We know that it’s hard for a landlord to give up access to their property, and we understand the possible implications.
Nationwide, there is a great deal of research into landlords making their spaces available for creative makers, industries and artists. We’re constantly reviewing the experiences of other cities to see how we can tailor a service that is perfect for Ballarat.
If you would like to know more about what a difference Ballarat Evolve can make to your empty premises, hear directly from our inaugural landlord Carolyn Guirguis.
In the first instance we offer a 30-day rolling license agreement between the successful creative and landlord. We have an arrangement with the landlord to pay a small stipend to cover their expenses on a monthly basis. We coordinate between creative and landlord to ensure the buildings and spaces are well maintained and looked after.
The power of opening the doors of empty shops, commercial spaces and light industrial zones means greater foot traffic, and an increased likelihood of previously redundant spaces being seen as viable and rentable locations.
We also work closely with our licensees as many of them are on their way to eventually opening their own retail environments, and this can be a stepping stone to getting their businesses started.
TRIAL LOCATION 1 – 716 STURT ST
The initial trial of the Ballarat Evolve program commenced at a commercial location that had been used as a medical practice for some time. The space was a large 1920s Art Deco house that was been converted into medical rooms and was deemed perfect as a shared studio space.
This space was not open to the public, instead was activated as quiet studio space to permit each of the artists to focus on their body of works.
The owner kindly offered the building as a trial for 6 months, with an option to renew. Agreements with the artists commenced at the end of June 2018 and completed at the end of December 2018 when the owner successfully sold the building.
Four tenants were shortlisted to fill the space, and the impact of the trial was immediately apparent. The individual artists have all distinctly benefited from the provision of the studio space.
Abstract painter, Steve Sedgwick’s move into the studio coincided with an exhibition of his work at The Lost Ones Contemporary Art Gallery. This show was hugely successful, in part due to the exposure he had received from moving into the building.
Deb Weston’s fibre products have been placed in retail environments in town, netting her an additional income from her work.
Kim Anderson was one of the signature artists for the Biennale of Australian Art. Her move into the studio space permitted an increase in the size of her works and allowed her the time to complete a major body of work in time for the exhibition.
The artists directly benefitted from their time in the space, and the landlord also spoke highly of the process.
THE RENEW NEWCASTLE EXPERIENCE
Renew Newcastle was established in 2008 in response to the deterioration and decline of the area in Newcastle’s CBD in and around Hunter and King Streets. The second half of the twentieth century saw many changes to Newcastle, among them the decline of the CBD as a retail centre of choice for people from Newcastle and the wider Hunter Valley. As society evolved, cars became more common use and large shopping centres started appearing in Newcastle’s suburbs,resulting in fewer people visiting the CBD for their shopping.
The Renew project enabled a process that brokered access to the vacant spaces at heavily reduced rates in a temporary and ongoing capacity. Artists and creative enterprises use and maintain the buildings until they become commercially viable or are redeveloped. There are hence benefits to the owners and tenants as well as the wider community. Once started, Renew was able to quickly match up tenants with vacant spaces, with 40 creative enterprises and projects having been initiated by the end of its first year and, by the end of 2009, 25 formerly empty spaces were being utilised. The increase in occupancy of buildings in the Newcastle city centre was soon accompanied by an increase in visitors to the CBD, particularly the Hunter St mall where the first projects were targeted. New commercial tenants were soon opening and while some were short-lived, overall the occupancy rates of spaces in the CBD have risen enormously since that point.
While the cities of Ballarat and Newcastle are different, they equally share remarkable similarities. The concept of opening up empty commercial spaces is not a new one, and Renew Australia has gone on to prove this point across the country since the Newcastle initiative.
Ballarat Evolve seeks to learn and network with similarly sized cities, to take the best from each and grow our own personal experience.
Ballarat Evolve supports a wide range of artists, from performers to fibre artists, contemporary visual arts and others. Some are seeking quiet studio space. Some are seeking a retail shop front to sell their wares. Others want to exhibit and display their work. Here’s a small sample of their stories.
Part of Ballarat Evolve’s mission is to provide training and education to artists and creatives to assist them in becoming sustainable in their chosen practice.
Whether this is managing copyright concerns, understanding how to negotiate a collaboration or setting up basic business structures, our training program for 2019 will provide support for a range of individuals and organisations at varying levels of sophistication.
Check back here regularly as we will be creating a calendar of events and activities throughout the year.
The Current Application Process for Creatives
Step 1 - Complete a simple Expression of Interest form on our site, and this starts the process.
Step 2 - Each applicant is forwarded a more comprehensive application form for completion. This application form includes information about your organisation and whether you have commenced trading.
Step 3 – The application forms are received by the Ballarat Evolve team and reviewed.
Step 4 – Successful applicants are invited in for interview.
Step 5 – The applicants are then matched with potential locations, using advice and direction from partnering real estate agents where necessary. They are supplied with the tenancy licence agreement between applicant and landlord directly.
Step 6 – the tenant moves into the space.
The submissions fall into several categories:
1. Artists seeking studio / rehearsal space (quiet, not open to the public)
2. Artists seeking gallery and exhibition space (public facing, not always staffed)
3. Creative industries seeking retail spaces (shopfronts and high street retail)
Interested? Complete our EXPRESSION OF INTEREST FORM and we’ll get in touch with you!
Ballarat Evolve Creative Industries Inc is supported by private individuals, businesses and State Government.
Ballarat Evolve is focused on making great relationships across the city, and linking creative individuals with the kind of space they need to succeed.
Ray White Real Estate - Tracey Holmes of Ray White Real Estate has provided countless hours of support by interviewing candidates and truly examining what creative industries and artists might need in order to establish themselves in a commercial setting. Ray White takes seriously the need to provide a feeder system to help small businesses get on their feet.
Creative Victoria - Ballarat Evolve is supported financially by Creative Victoria’s Creative Spaces program.
City of Ballarat - Ballarat Evolve is supported in part by the City of Ballarat’s Economic Development program.
Ballarat Health Services - The sprawling network of the hospital has become a site for placement of artists and their works, with the support of the hospital working in conjunction with the Ballarat Evolve team.