Menu Search

Posts in: News

Hotbed of creativity sees cool results

1 April 2017 | Posted in: News

This is Australia’s coolest coastal town

Australian tourism recently named Newcastle as Australia’s coolest coastal town and says Renew is “giving the city an air of purpose and promise and rebooting the local economy”.

Renew has enabled 250 creative projects in last eight years. Of these, 35 have taken on commercial leases and we are pleased to see their success. Others have experimented with an idea, taken a risk, grown from it and moved on to other things. We also see this as success. Offering an avenue for creative industries to surface has brought soul, diversity and entrepreneurship to Newcastle.

The benefits are also financial. The evidence of the economic contribution to society is obvious in our recent figures showing the combined creative businesses that make up Renew Newcastle give back over $3M in value to the community each year. Creativity in entrepreneurial hands is business.

It’s exciting to see this activity mirrored in the thinking of the University with the introduction of the Bachelor of Creative Industries recognising the need for a more entrepreneurial approach to the arts for students.

In line with this new focus of the Creative Industry degree, Renew Newcastle took its place at the recent careers expo at the University. Sitting shyly between the likes of Transport NSW and Rio Tinto it was an opportunity to bring the possibilities of a creative career to the minds of students deciding which direction their degrees will lead them and planting a seed that creativity can be art, but it can also be a successful business.

Creativity is becoming increasingly recognised as an activity that is more than a pastime. Its impact in Newcastle is more than visual appeal for the CBD; it’s a leading player in the rejuvenation of the city and is standing strong in its contribution to the economy.

Haven for Progress

23 February 2017 | Posted in: News

snake nation

In 2008, when Marcus Westbury first presented the Renew concept to a gathering in the Lock Up, David Sleet from the GPT group was at that meeting and was inspired by how the vision could work. Since then GPT have made 45 leasable properties available that have housed 70 Renew projects over the last 8 years. Its been a partnership that has created change in the city and given many local creative businesses a chance at success.

We are looking now to more change with the sale of the mall to Iris Capital and anticipate our ability to also fill their temporary needs for these empty spaces.

For the past three years, we have been activating the property at 451 Hunter Street. Seven Renew projects have filled four different spaces in the arcade that has housed Hamburger Haven for so long.

The property’s owner David Pidcock says making the property available for Renew projects was a positive experience. “Renew tenants made the building look alive and utilized and each new tenant made their space slightly better than when they arrived”.

David will be embarking on the opportunities the new university campus will offer properties in the area but has been pleased to see the temporary activation of his building allow seven businesses to grow in an otherwise empty space.

The seven businesses we have had in this building are:
Steel City Collective
Snake Nation
The Endz
Ann Snell – Wakarla Studios & Gallery
Benny Rizzo
Lachlan Conn
Octopus Ink

Success is more than appearances

23 February 2017 | Posted in: News

According to a recent report compiled by the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) at the University of Newcastle, every dollar invested in Renew Newcastle, generates an impressive fourteen-times that in economic benefit to the city.

The visual evidence of activity in the Hunter Street mall is evident, the shop fronts are 90% commercially leased and the area is attracting business and residential interest creating a vibrant community. The new independent study on the social and economic benefits of Renew Newcastle demonstrates the change is more than just appearances.

The report demonstrates that creative space activation creates new jobs, develops participant’s skills, engages volunteers, creates intellectual capital, mitigates blight and improves business and community confidence and regional tourism value.

The report determined that Renew Newcastle yields a return on investment of 14.4:1

The report states:
In a numerical sense Renew has placed 220 projects into spaces, activated some 75 previously unused properties and seen 35 of its projects move from Renew spaces into their own commercially leased spaces.

Renew has been instrumental in the establishment of similar initiatives in cities around Australia and around the world. Indeed Renew’s national and international reach has promoted Newcastle as not only a model of revitalisation, but as a place of creativity and a popular tourist destination.

The formal cost-benefit analysis found Renew Newcastle to provide a benefit of just over $3million, in return for its slightly more than $200,000 in costs. This represents a benefit cost ratio of 14.4, meaning every dollar spent by Renew Newcastle provides $14.40 in benefits. Renew is indeed a highly beneficial project.

We are proud of what has been achieved and the success is clear and rewarding to us, but to see our effort as a monetary figure giving economic and social value back to the community is extremely satisfying.

We rely on the support of our funding partners NSW Government, Hunter Development Corporation, Urban Growth, Newcastle City Council and Newcastle Now and are excited to be able to demonstrate such value for their investments.

Read the Economic Evaluation Report for further details.

Pedal Power

23 February 2017 | Posted in: News


Kerry Staite is a crazy inventor, with a do whatever it takes attitude, to get the job done. To fully let loose on his imagination, he’s started his own company to produce the cool things he invents.  His brand new company ‘Ktronik’ has taken up residency as a Renew project in  Clock Tower Studios in Hamilton.

Kerry explains he “was just a bike mechanic who wanted to change the world!’”

Ten years ago he discovered how to maximise the output of the modern dynamo system.  In simpler terms, a bike light that operated using pedal power, based on the old tyre friction generators of the 60 & 70s.

Kerry originally made each light by hand, and requests for them started to come from Australia and around the world.  He wasn’t able to keep up with the orders and began looking for a partnership. After appearing on Shark Tank two years ago, a Newcastle based engineering company, Prichard Electronics, in New Lambton, recognized the ingenuity of the idea and a partnership was born. They have since been working on an improved design of the light that Kerry says will be the  “brightest dynamo powered light in the world”.

Kerry’s space in the Clock Tower has enabled him to move product development out of the bedroom and the home environment. His ability to focus in the studio has seen the development process leap ahead to a stage where with the support of the Prichard Electronics factory the new light is almost ready to launch and ship around the world.

He’s discovered that to make money out of an invention you have to do more than just invent it! As well as the electronic engineering required for Kerry to see an idea come to life, he needed a space for product development, marketing, web design and photography. This is where his Renew studio is most useful.

Sculpting a Successful Future

23 February 2017 | Posted in: News

In August 2015, Dom de Carvalo became part of Octopus Ink collective and received a Renew space. Dom describes his work as sculpting odd creatures and creating weird jewellery. “I like to think of it as decorating people and places,” he said. He has been sculpting earrings, fantasy beasts and illustrating colouring books in his Renew space for almost two years.

Back in 2015 one of his goals was to run workshops teaching his unique sculptural style to others. Working with Renew graduate Andrew Dennis this goal has not only become a reality, but teaching has become Dom’s passion.

He is taking his career down a new path beginning a masters in primary school teaching at the University of Newcastle this year. Being involved with Renew is not just about occupying a space, but about giving and receiving among the creative networks that are generated from it.