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.