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City Council Extends City Revitalisation Project

Cleave. Image: Gabby O'Connor

City Council Extends City Revitalisation Project

Funding has been granted by the Wellington City Council for a further six months for the trial of Urban Dream Brokerage. Working with commercial property partners, Urban Dream Brokerage assists with the revitalisation of Wellington city through brokering the use of vacant shops and commercial spaces by artists for public art and creative businesses.

The eighth public art project assisted by Urban Dream Brokerage, a giant illuminated paper iceberg sculpture entitled Cleave, has recently opened in Victoria Street near Civic Square. It is a community art project by artist Gabby O’Connor, placed with the help of Prime Property Group. Two other projects are ongoing currently in the city nearby, in Willis Street’s Grand Arcade (jewellery project Occupation Artists) and Manners Street (The People’s Cinema). The Brokerage is now calling for new public art ideas for vacant spaces by 16 August.

"The future vitality of Wellington city depends on harnessing the creative entrepreneurial energy that exists," says Brokerage co-manager Mark Amery.

"This energy needs to be matched to the vacant building stock the city has. If we want to be innovative we need to grow new enterprise from the ground up and give our creatives the space and, with it the responsibility to engage with the city, as befits Wellington’s title as ‘Creative Capital’."

Since February Urban Dream Brokerage, run by public art programme Letting Space, has helped enable eight diverse artist projects to occupy the central city, each suggesting new creative uses of space. The scheme has been funded as a pilot by Wellington City Council's Public Art Fund,

Key to the Urban Dream Brokerage’s success is a partnership with Wellington’s property sector, with relationships being built between property owners and managers and creative talent.

“By utilising these vacant spaces,” Stathis Moutous, Leasing Manager at The Wellington Company says, “owners get exposure for the site at the same time as helping budding artists, but also it revitalises an area even if for a short period. This is particularly helpful in secondary locations or sites that have been empty for a prolonged period in the current slowdown of the economy for retail spend in Wellington. At The Wellington Company we feel like we are helping our prospects for leasing the sites long term, while assisting with a cultural art aspect for the city.”

The People's Cinema in Manners Street provides public space for the people to screen their films and bring community groups together, and Occupation Artists in the Grand Arcade, Willis Street, has seen a group of jewellery artists have an open public workshop and exhibition space, interacting with other small business owners in the arcade. Next door until recently in Grand Arcade Tales of a Dying City sae the city mapped through people sharing their memories and stories of different parts of Wellington with a Wellington theatre company.

“We are really happy for the jewellers to use our vacant space to do their work until we find other tenants,” comments Deryck Hope, Senior Property Manager for Grand Complex Properties. “They have made that particular stretch of the arcade vibrant again.”

“Thanks to the Brokerage all four of us have the opportunity to focus on our art practice in communal way, says artist Vivien Atkinson of Occupation Artists. “We are able to collaborate and share ideas with one another and in the first two days we received excellent feedback and recommendations from the public about our projects.”

The Urban Dream Brokerage brokers spaces for innovative public art projects which seek to add new life to the city and suggest creative new ways of using our city. The brokerage arranges insurance for the spaces and ensures licensing and basic conditions are looked after.

For more details on projects and the Brokerage go to


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