Urban Dream Brokerage Grows 

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

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”.   

Project proposals can be submitted on the Urban Dream Brokerage website: or by emailing Helen Kirlew Smith at for more information.   


Men in Hi-Vis Jackets 

Men in hi-vis jackets are plentiful around Christchurch at the moment, but we have a special tribe of them helping Tim Barlow create the site for TEZA (pictured above).   

TEZA couldn’t be built without these guys from Postive Directions Trust, or PDT for short. They include men who have had a bit of a rough start, and may be heading toward a life crime or gangs.  “When these guys are given responsibility they turn away from crime,”  Positive Directions Trust CEO Phil Tikao says.

“PDT works with men who have significant barriers’ to employment, like criminal records or not having much education, but most of them do really well in social settings.”

After a period of training and induction, they get a uniform and are placed in a project.

“It’s not rocket science really. You give them a hi-vis jacket and a walkie talkie and they’re feeling some responsibility and genuine care.”

PDT is assisting Letting Space with building the TEZA site and with security overnight.

PDT has been around for 18 years and has always tried to work on innovative approaches to social issues. 

Phil says there are many perceived risks in his work but he knows they can do even more. He says they are “tucked at the side,” working with ACC, the Department of Corrections, Ministry of Health as well as iwi-affiliated Te Rununga o Ngai Tahu and He Oranga Pounamu.


Its a privilege to able to be part of adding a public art organisation to that lineup.



Join Phil Dadson's Bicycle Choir



Anyone interested in the formation of a Bicycle Choir for TEZA in New Brighton during the last week in November 2013, is welcome to meet, greet, hear and discuss a plan in progress, this Saturday, 5.30 for 6pm at Seaview Reslience Centre, 165 Seaview Rd in New Brighton. 
Briefly, the bicycle-choir is a sonic-cum-choreographic plot to mobilize cycling / singing enthusiasts, in New Brighton, with the aim of creating an experience to imprint the collective memory and locality with a sense of solidarity and the sheer pleasure of being one instrument (sound-in-motion) in concert with community. It aims to contribute, in its way, to fostering the creative spirit of New Brighton and to support and encourage an already burgeoning cycling movement within the wider Christchurch region.  
More info about the event, this Saturday 19th, 5.30 for 6pm 165 Seaview Rd.
Anyone enthusiastic for the idea of cycling and singing (no professional skills required) is welcome.
Phil Dadson 
Artist in the TEZA / New Brighton initiative (November 24 - Dec 1, 2013)
Artist in Scape 7. (Bodytok Quintet, The Artbox venue. Chch central)


The work of ace all-round artist and designer Kerry Ann Lee


Public media project on the Business of Art and the Art of Doing Business 

A New Zealand internet channel of videos exploring the business of the contemporary art scene is now online. Featuring more than 20 10 -minute interviews with artists, dealers, collectors, curators and others from New Zealand and Australia, Studio Channel Art Fair ( provides an independent media discussion considering the value of different relationships,  and who holds the power in the art scene. It has been set up to allow interviews to be dispersed freely as creative commons through the internet.  

Public art producers Letting Space set up studio for two days at the end of The Cloud on Auckland's waterfront during  the Auckland Art Fair to, as they say, "consider the business of art and art as a business; one that ebbs and flows as much as any other industry in New Zealand.” 

“The people we interviewed are society change-makers, helping transform how we see ourselves and the way we do things. We want to celebrate that and provide some insights into the process of presenting and exchanging work in the art market.” 

As writers Jim and Mary Barr ( record on their blog: "Former dealer Marshall Seifert calls the Auckland Art Fair a “hyped up tap dance" and Venice Commissioner Heather Galbraith says she was there  “more for conversation than looking.” Artist Scott Eady admits that “you have to work a lot harder to be visible” when you're based in Dunedin and Sue Gardiner of the Chartwell Trust explains how Trust founder Rob Gardiner looked to Denmark's Louisiana Museum of Modern Art for his public/ private model. And not to forget, Auckland Art Gallery curator Ron Brownson reminding us that the Auckland Art Gallery is “not a contemporary art museum”.

Studio Channel Art Fair is an experiment in the way the public programming that accompanies exhibitions operates. Rather than longer-form public presentations, the project responds to the shorter, networking series of social exchanges that occur on the floor of an Art Fair.  

The full list of interviews is: 

Sait Akkirman, documentor

Jennifer Buckley, art fair director

Ron Brownson, Curator

Scott Eady, artist and teacher

Judy Darragh, artist

Lisa Fehily, dealer and collector

Heather Galbraith, University head

Sue Gardiner, collector and writer

John Hurrell, critic

Lonnie Hutchinson, artist

Paul McNamara, curator and dealer

Anna Miles, dealer

Richard Moss, collector

Matt Nache, dealer

Anna Pappas, dealer

Reuben Paterson, artist

Dick Quan, collector

Marshall Seifert, ex-dealer and collector

Jonathan Smart, dealer

Francis Till, artist and dealer

Tracey Williams, curator and artist


Drawing By Bryce Galloway

This drawing by Bryce was created to accompany Studio Channel Art Fair, Letting Space's media junket at the Auckland Art Fair 9-10 August. Our models were Helen Mirren and Michael Parkinson, 70s styles. Although in Bryce's hands they show a remarkable resemblance to your hosts, Mark and Sophie.   


Call for Public Art Ideas

Public art ideas for vacant commercial space in Wellington in 2013 are being sought by an agency being established by the curators of public art programme Letting Space by the 17th of December.

Called Urban Dream Brokerage, the agency is a six month pilot funded by the Wellington City Council. It opens in December to assist in the revitalisation of the city through brokering the use of vacant commercial space by artists and the creative industries. While submissions are welcome at any time for projects needing space, the Brokerage is asking initial submissions for public artwork to be submitted to Urban Dream Brokerage by 17 December to

Urban Dream Brokerage founders Mark Amery and Sophie Jerram emphasise they are working as brokers rather than curators of projects. While artists will be responsible for developing and managing their projects,  as an agency Urban Dream Brokerage locates potential spaces for the projects and handles negotiation, licensing and the provision of insurance. Amery and Jerram bring to the Brokerage three years of experience working with property owners to realise a series of ambitious and innovative public art projects nationally.

"Where many artists come unstuck," they say, "is in the relationships with property owners and covering aspects like insurance when their use is short term use. It works for landlords, enlivening space and suggesting new uses to potential tenants, enables new business growth and the development business skills in the creative sector, and encourages a more lively, mixed used urban environment - something thats vital to a creative, future-looking city."  

Jerram and Amery note their are many similar brokerage initiatives occurring around the world due to their effectiveness, including over a dozen in Australia.
Any individual or group developing their own original work or idea are eligible to apply to the brokerage as long as their work, product, services or process is distinctive and unique. While the Brokerage is being established to support all original work and creative businesses, until April 2013 or until a further funding base is secured, priority is being given to public art projects (see below for the Wellington City Council's definition of Public Art).

Applicants must:

  • Bring life to Wellington. Projects should be fresh, dynamic and open to the public. Priority will be given to those with a ground floor presence and accessibility (i.e. not projects that are about storage, office space, or that are rarely open). This can be anywhere within Wellington City Council boundaries - not just the CBD.
  • Provide the unique and innovative. We are not interested in turning the city into another copy of itself or one type of gallery or space. Part of the selection process is the encouragement of mixed use, diversity and variety. Artists and the creative industries actively contribute to the thinking, use and design of urban spaces. Projects will also be helping ensure more diverse communities are represented publicly.
  • Demonstrate professionalism and a very clear idea. Projects should have future potential for growth, and individuals/organisations should demonstrate that they are ready to look after a space professionally and responsibly.
  • Pay attention to their project’s context. Projects should demonstrate an awareness of Wellington city’s current usages, issues and history. This includes, where applicable, recognition of mana whenua and the city's Maori whakapapa.

For a project to happen it also needs someone with a suitable property to get behind it. The Brokerage may not always be able to find such a space.

Public art is defined in the Wellington City Council Public Art Policy as:

  • artists contributing to the thinking and design of public places and spaces,
  • art concepts and/or artworks and/or design features integrated into urban design developments (including buildings, streets and parks),
  • artists working in and with communities in public spaces,
  • art processes and artworks in the public sphere that may be variously described as sculpture, murals, street-art, performance, new-genre public art, relational aesthetics, and/or installations.

Jerram and Amery encourage those interested to contact the Brokerage with any questions they have as to their eligibility or how the UDB can help them. email: or phone 027 3566 128 or 029 934 9749