I'm really pleased to be extending our Oxford Street Creative Spaces program this year. By supporting hundreds of young entrepreneurs who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford rent in the city centre we not only create a space for our young creatives to develop their ideas, we breathe additional life into the City's east.
The City owns a number of properties on Oxford and William Street that are ideally suited to artists and others working in creative industries. We offer space in these buildings as retail, office and studio space at low rent to creative enterprise. The buildings have become creative hubs for tenants specialising in everything from textile design to mobile app development to ceramics and home to architects, fashion designers and online music development.
Since the program launched in early 2012, we've hosted hundreds of businesses and injected about $1m into the local economy. By extending the program another four years we're offering a new generation the chance to get their start in the industry. The current leases, which were due to expire at the end of 2014, have been extended for another 12 months. The City will then put out a call for new tenants to move into the spaces from 2016-2018.
The tenants have formed a strong creative community committed to the future of Oxford Street, and have had a significant impact on the area's cultural life and local economy.
One of the first initiatives under the program was the concept art gallery He Made She Made. Since 2012 it has hosted 40 successful exhibitions featuring more than 400 artists at its shopfront in Darlinghurst. Part of what makes He Made She Made so successful is the level of community and support on Oxford Street, with the gallery able to feed on the surrounding creativity and enthusiasm.
Of the program's original tenants, four have 'graduated' and moved into larger properties - including Envelop Entertainment, a cross-platform production house which was recently acquired by award-winning digital production company The Project Factory. Without the burden of financial risk associated with taking out a lease, Envelop was able to commit to bigger projects and grow rapidly.
The creative spaces program is just one of more than 50 City of Sydney projects to reactivate Oxford Street over the past six years, including installing new footpaths, lighting, seating, street trees and public artworks.
For more information, visit: www.creativecitysydney.com.au/our-programs/creative-spaces