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Low cost workspaces a boost to culture and creativity

The Property Addict / Architecture & Design


Jul 17 2017

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The City of Sydney is boosting Sydney’s culture and creativity by offering arts and community organisations affordable workspaces across the city. 

The City’s latest round of accommodation grants – which provide accommodation in City-owned buildings within the community property portfolio at zero or below market rent – give space to four innovative, community-driven organisations that will help educate people on sustainable living, address men’s social and health issues, support feminist organisations and provide performance and rehearsal spaces for artists and performers.

71 organisations receive support through the City’s accommodation grants program, with 77 leases at 49 properties across Sydney offered at reduced rent.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore emphasised the significance of servicing the needs of local communities by filling new or underused spaces with imaginative new ventures.

“By supporting a diverse group of community and cultural organisations we’re helping create vibrant neighbourhoods, making this a more liveable city for people of all ages and backgrounds,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The rising cost of real estate makes it difficult for many great services to afford space in the City. Providing zero or below market rent options helps ensure the kinds of organisations that make Sydney special can flourish here.

“From free legal advice and advocacy services to practical repair workshops, our latest tenants provide valuable community services and a range of activities and facilities that residents across the city can access and enjoy.”

The latest tenants are:

Banga Community Shed

The Banga (Aboriginal meaning ‘to make’ or ‘do’) Community Shed will set up in the former South Sydney Hospital site, within the new community and cultural precinct at Green Square.

Based on the Men’s Shed movement, the Banga Community Shed aims to improve the health and wellbeing of community members through practical activities like woodwork, carpentry, metalwork and repairs.

Benledi House

Heritage building Benledi House, that adjoins the Glebe library, will welcome three new tenants through the grants program.

Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group runs a variety of programs and activities to address health, relationships, violence, drugs and alcohol issues. The organisation seeks to facilitate campaigns and programs to unite and affirm the positive values of traditional Aboriginal culture, focusing on healing together to create a safe and hopeful community.

The Feminist Legal Clinic provides legal support to feminist organisations and services as well as women who access them, including support campaigns, help with law reform submissions, running cases with a human rights focus, providing advice, advocacy and targeted referrals.

Already a tenant at Benledi House, Screen Culture Association Incorporated runs the annual Antenna International Documentary Film Festival that showcases documentaries from Australia and around the world, including gala awards and other audience and industry events.  The organisation is expanding its operations and is moving to a larger tenancy within the building.

David Rokach, festival co-director, Screen Culture Association said: "In a time of increasing government funding cuts to the arts and culture sectors, initiatives like the City of Sydney’s accommodation grants have proven valuable to Antenna, contributing to its sustainability and capacity to provide Sydney audiences access to the best documentary cinema from around the world.”

Other Benledi House tenants to receive accommodation grants from the City include Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and Pride History Group.

Bower Reuse and Repair Centre Cooperative 

This group runs programs that encourage recycling, decreased waste to landfill and increased social participation.  Bower proposes to set up a men’s and women’s shed within the Banga Community Shed, that includes a free, electronic repair café for locals. 

“Thanks to the City’s grant, we will be able to offer our services to the many people living in vertical communities in the area who will benefit from the repair café sessions and access to the shed,” said Guido Verbist, co-operative manager at The Bower.

“Residents are invited to bring items that require repairing. Our Bower technicians take time to explain the repair process to every participant, helping them to learn new skills and understand the benefits of repairing and reusing.”

East Sydney Community and Arts Centre 

East Sydney Community and Arts Centre in Darlinghurst recently re-opened after a multi-million dollar refurbishment by the City which included substantial renovations to the upper floor of the building to ensure its suitability for use as a rehearsal, small-scale performance and creative workshop space. 

Brand X is a not-for-profit cultural organisation that provides support for performers, artists and creative organisations. Brand X will provide open-access and subsidised space for hire that will enable performing artists to create new work and the local community to develop their creative practice.

The leases for Babani Group, Feminist Legal Clinic, Screen Culture and Brand X will commence from August 2017.  The Bower will open at the Banga Community Shed at the completion of construction, expected to be around September 2017. The leases are for a five year period.

For more details on the City of Sydney’s accommodation grants program, recipients and applications, search accommodation grants at

SOURCE: Press Release


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