Sydney City Opens New Subsidised Spaces For Arts, Culture, and Environmental Businesses


Artists, environmentalists, and other not-for-profit organisations will be offered access to a new batch of free or subsidised work spaces in the Sydney City area, helping them set-up shop at the heart of one of the world’s most expensive cities.

The City of Sydney Council has confirmed it will be expanding its community venues programs, which offers reduced rate spaces for organisations that provide a positive social contribution to the city.

The five new sites (see below) opened to the program are spread across Glebe and Alexandria, and add to the stock of 51 City-owned sites already being used to support 71 organisations.

Among the new spaces to be opened are historic buildings including a converted incinerator designed by Walter Burley Griffin.

One business to have already utilised the spaces opened by the city is Big Fag Press, a small publishing collective which derives its name from the 4 tonne proof-press its artists use to print their work.

Associate partner Louise Anderson said securing a workshop on Glebe Island had made a huge difference.

“Real estate in Sydney is always a beast, but it’s even harder when you’re trying to run an organisation based around a large printing press,” Anderson said.

Phil McManus, Professor of urban and environmental geography at the University of Sydney, told New Matilda the program allowed businesses boxed out by Sydney’s high rental prices to take a foothold close to the CBD.

“It is a value judgement,” he said. “Without that judgment – if you leave it to the market – we’re saying we don’t value the not-for-profits.”

McManus also said the program benefitted residents by helping to establish creative hubs, and ensuring their urban environment remained part of a “liveable and vibrant city, not just a hub of offices”.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said competition for the new round of grants would be intense.

“We expect another big rush of applications for this round and have made the application process easier this year by putting it all online,” Moore said.

Opening spaces to creative and not-for-profit organisations has been growing in popularity in recent years, after a group in Newcastle lobbied to have disused public buildings and run down commercial premises opened to pop-up creative ventures.

In 2011, Parramatta council initiated a similar scheme.

While Sydney City also offers short-term pop-up spaces, it has granted access to long-term site use since around 2004.

Applications for the new Sydney sites open September 12 and close October 17. The details are below.

St Helens Community Centre offices, 184 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
Home and community care or social support services are invited to apply for up to three office spaces in the St Helens Community Centre. Other tenants in the building include a City of Sydney Community Centre, the Physical Disability Council of NSW, a radio studio for the Print Handicapped and Neighbour Connections. St Helen’s Community Centre sits next door to Glebe Library and the City’s Customer Service Centre.

Walter Burley Griffin Incinerator, 53 Forsyth St, Glebe
Located on the Glebe foreshore, the Walter Burley Griffin incinerator overlooks Blackwattle Bay and Anzac Bridge. It is accessible via steps and a walkway through landscaped surrounds. No on-street parking is available but the incinerator is close to public transport routes.

Office space at Alexandria Town Hall, 73 Garden St, Alexandria
A ground-floor office space in a property home to other accommodation grant program tenants, such as the South Sydney Community Aid Cooperative.

Desk space in Benledi House, 186 Glebe Point Rd
A 16sqm desk space and a 28sqm office space on the western side of the building are open to applicants. Adjoining Benledi House is the City of Sydney Library and Customer Services Offices. Other accommodation grants tenants there in include the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and the Pride History Group.

Glebe Town Hall Classroom, 160 St Johns Rd, Glebe
A 36.36sqm classroom that includes a 7.52sqm storage area is available. Glebe Town Hall is a short walk from Parramatta Road and accessible by public transport. Other tenants include the Glebe Community Development Project.

How to apply
Prospective applicants can check property inspection times and lodge application forms here.

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