Unused space freak out

The Sydney Fringe Festival launched An Anthology of Space 2015 -2018 last night. The 94-page report outlines prohibitive restrictions preventing Sydney’s creative sectors from activating empty industrial warehouse spaces and retail shop fronts.

An Anthology of Space proposes solutions to overcome the onerous red tape it says is strangling Sydney’s creative sectors.

The report calls for a variation to the National Construction Code – due to be updated in 2019 – that would allow small arts venues to be treated for planning purposes in a similar way as restaurants.

Sydney Fringe Festival Director and Chief Executive, Kerri Glassock, says the most common problem for artists in NSW is the lack of affordable and appropriate space in which to make and present work year round.

Despite this need, the report points to prohibitive restrictions – regulatory and financial – hindering artists and creative industries from bringing new life to underutilised industrial and retail spaces through temporary artist projects.

“If artists were able to legally and affordably use available empty spaces the current venue crisis would literally cease to exist,” explained Ms Glasscock.

Sydney Fringe Festival highlights several case studies drawing on the past four years of experience delivering NSW’s largest independent arts festival annually, with more than 2000 participating local artists needing temporary space in which to present their work.

Examples in the report point to planning and building regulations stifling attempts to reactivate empty shop fronts, as well as light and large-scale industrial warehouses.

Solutions proposed in the report include more nuanced risk assessments by police of low impact creative events and a one-off fee for change-of-use development applications.

“If existing retail space was opened up to the performance sector, the city and its high streets could be peppered with 30-60 seats performance spaces operating up to 10pm to support a varied nightlife and diversify night-time economies,” said Ms Glasscock.

An Anthology of Space was funded by the Department of Industry, Liquor and Gaming’s cultural infrastructure grant program.

Download the full report here https://www.dropbox.com/s/a2rimuyaeanz83j/SFF18_An_Anthology_of_Space.pdf?dl=0