Ten years ago, a small organisation was created with a big idea and a name that was essentially a call to action – Renew Newcastle.
Ten years ago, a small organisation was created with a big idea and a name that was essentially a call to action – Renew Newcastle. It was a simple and opportunistic concept. Pair up empty buildings with creative people and see what developed. Over the years, 264 creatives have participated to activate 82 vacant properties.
After announcing last week that Renew Newcastle will wrap up in March there has been an outpouring of sadness and appreciation from all corners of the city. A city that is now undergoing massive renewal. While this may be the end of the organisation, the legacy of Renew endures.
A stroll through Newcastle’s laneways and underpasses will reveal extraordinary art works created by initiatives such as Street Art Walking, Hit the Bricks or the playful murals of Trevor Dickinson.
Hunter Street houses more than a handful of enterprises that continue to flourish as change and disruption surrounds them. Curve Gallery regularly exhibits local and international artists. At Shannon Hartigan Images you can purchase exquisite landscape photography of Newcastle. In City Arcade you will find ethically made jewellery at Barbara Nanshe Studio and leather goods at CCY Studio. Stop at the Nook Store for the best independent men’s streetwear available. Studio Melt has local handmade contemporary jewellery and regular workshops. The Roost, Newcastle’s first co-working space, is home to numerous emerging creative enterprises. With Love Bree-Lacey offers vintage inspired bespoke ladies’ fashion. Further west you will find the Art Project gallery and studio.
Discover the new cultural heartland on the city fringes. In Islington and Maryville co-working spaces and studios facilitated by committed artists and entrepreneurs Brett Piva and Zackari Watt. At the Creator Incubator in Hamilton North former “Renewers” play a significant part in developing one of the most exciting artist run initiatives Newcastle has seen.
And one shouldn’t overlook the many filmmakers, photographers, graphic designers, architects, inventors, milliners, clothing makers and visual artists who continue to work out of studios and offices providing Newcastle with unique local product and services.
Back in 2009, a group of artists started an enterprise through the Renew initiative called Makespace. Over five years Makespace moved five times as the properties they activated caught the attention of new business and became commercially leased. The entity has been in hibernation for five years but has recently announced its return. It includes a few new players and a renewed passion to maintain creativity in Newcastle’s East End.
In many ways Makespace encapsulates the very essence of Renew Newcastle. Like Renew, it too is a call to action. A resounding proclamation.
Make space for creatives in the city.
Renew has waved goodbye for now, what will you do to keep that creative heart beating?