Our service Urban Dream Brokerage is calling for dynamic proposals for the use of vacant retail space in Wellington from artists, designers, businesses, community groups and social entrepreneurs. Anyone with an innovative idea that needs a space within which to interact with the public in new ways can apply. Applications can be made at any time through www.urbandreambrokerage.org.nz.
New funding has been confirmed this month from Wellington City Council and Wellington Community Trust, to allow the Urban Dream Brokerage to broaden its work with property owners, individuals and community groups to broker the temporary use of vacant space for innovative projects, assisting in urban revitalisation.
Urban Dream Brokerage's work in Wellington aims to increase diversity and community, reduce vacant space, increase professionalism and help innovate business development, increase mixed use of the city's building stock, see stronger representation of mana whenua and increase public engagement in the city
“We want to see Wellington known as a city for its innovative use of space and public interaction,” says Urban Dream Broker Helen Kirlew Smith. “Help create a place where everyone feels represented. Where, like the traditional high street, community and businesses exist side by side. This is an opportunity for locally-grown businesses and groups with original ideas to involve the public in their thinking and work.For the city’s future health, our streets need to reflect our diversity. A city’s resilience is determined by how it responds to its changing circumstances.”
Urban Dream Brokerage has run as a pilot over the last 15 months. The Brokerage placed 15 creative projects into vacant retail spaces around the city. These included a community cinema (People’s Cinema, still going), a former ASB Bank site where the public could deposit their mood and consider the collective mood of the city (Moodbank), a waiting room in Cuba Mall (The Waiting Room), innovative theatre productions, a jewellery workshop and exhibition space in Willis Street (Occupation Artists), and a space displaying hundreds of wedding dresses where the public were asked their views on marriage on the eve of the passing of the Marriage Amendment Act (Brides).
Mark Farrar, from Council’s funding team says, “the Urban Dream Brokerage gives Wellington innovative and exciting public art, helps our creative industries and asks provocative questions about social and cultural issues.”
Over the last four years statistics from Colliers International show that, while there has been recent growth in retail spending, there has also been a steady increase in retail and other commercial vacancies, with most of that increase in the heart of the CBD. The most recently published figures show vacancies at 13.7%.
Proposed projects for the Urban Dream Brokerage need to be unique, innovative, bring life to the city and be open to the public. Projects may be temporary one-off trials or designed to be ongoing. “Our job,” says Kirlew, “is not to replicate what already exists. This is an opportunity to develop new ideas with the public”.