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New Guest Blog - Renew Newcastle!

30th April, 2012
Lucy Feagins
Monday 30th April 2012

This week passionate Novocastrian Siobhan Curran joins us on the Guest Blog, introducing us to a bunch of inspiring Newy creatives who are part of the brilliant 'Renew Newcastle' initiative.  Photos - Sean Fennessy.

As mentioned in our main post today, Newcastle local Siobhan Curran has an infectious enthusiasm for her home town, as well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of every cool creative happening in 'Newy' - so we figured she'd be the very BEST person to join us on the Guest Blog this week!

One of the most inspiring creative happenings in Newcastle at the moment is a seriously BRILLIANT initiative called Renew Newcastle.  Founded in 2008 by Newcastle-born, Melbourne-based creative Marcus Westbury, this not-for-profit organisation was established to assist in finding short term uses for a glut of buildings and commercial spaces in Newcastle’s CBD that were vacant or awaiting development.

As is the case in so many regional centres, as business moves away from these areas, commercial properties, shopfronts and workspaces are often left without tenants, boarded up, neglected and subsequently vandalised, because no one takes responsibility for them.

Renew Newcastle matches up local artists, designers, creative businesses and community groups with specific properties, giving them the opportunity to utilise various spaces in the centre of town until they become commercially viable or are redeveloped.  This project has had an incredible impact in Newy - encouraging positive, creative activity in buildings which otherwise fall into a cycle of disrepair and ongoing vacancy.

Renew Newcastle has been SO immensly successful - since launching in 2008 they've placed over 71 projects in over 42 spaces - subsequently many of these properties have been re-leased commercially, and Newcastle's central mall is once again a bustling hub of activity.   Marcus Westbury has since gone on to launch 'Renew Australia' - consulting to regional towns across the country and overseas to develop similar initiatives.


This week on the GUEST BLOG,  Newcastle resident, blogger and all-round enthusiast Siobhan Curran will introduce us to 7 different creative businesses who are currently participating in the Renew Newcastle program. The ones we've selected are such a fantastic, diverse, range of projects - from artists' studios, to graphic designers, to a new surf/skate shop in very the centre of town, run by a passionate 21 year old skater and his mates!  Nice work kids!

Do pop by the Guest Blog each day this week to meet this inspiring bunch of Novocastrian creatives, and don't forget to check our Siobhan's blog, The Novocastrian Files too!

Siobhan Curran, in her rightful place on the Lord Mayor of Newcastle's throne!? (Newcastle Museum photo wall mural by Trevor Dickinson - more on him tomorrow!). Photo - Sean Fennessy.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email