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The Emporium becomes a significant piece of DJ’s history

24 May 2017 | Posted in: News

Emporium March 2017

The contribution of The Emporium to Newcastle’s redevelopment has been long and fruitful. It’s time now for it to bow gracefully from its role in the city’s revitalisation to make way for new development.

This week Renew Newcastle received notice from the building owners, Iris Capital, to vacate the former David Jones building. As per the Renew Newcastle Property License Agreement, tenants will vacate the building within 30 days.

General Manager, Christopher Saunders said “Renew’s role in property activation has always been as ‘custodians’ bringing life and activity to otherwise empty spaces, until either party wish to exit the agreement”.

The Emporium has been our flagship retail space since 2012 and its participants have created an iconic tourist destination that has been a major player in the cultural change bringing Newcastle to life.”

“Attracting interest in the city from developers is part of our overall renewal plan. The Emporium is a clear example of how Renew Newcastle’s temporary activation increases the potential of a property,” Saunders said.

The Emporium has enabled 39 creative businesses to blossom, 22 of them progressing into ongoing business ventures. Five have taken on commercial leases in the city. Over 40 exhibitions have been held in the gallery spaces. 1000’s of customers have visited creating an enormous amount of goodwill among the community by keeping this building activated.

Renew participants continue to operate in 27 underutilised office and studio spaces in the city. Renew Newcastle now also has a presence in Hamilton at the Clock Tower Studios a temporary home for seven photographers. The participants in Clock Tower studios are welcoming the public to an exciting event on June 2nd showcasing a range of work and introducing themselves to Beaumont Street businesses and Hamilton residents.

“We are constantly looking for additional property owners who see the benefits of housing temporary businesses. In 2015 the Emporium became the only retail space available to us from among our current property partners”, said Christopher.

The creative businesses from within The Emporium have been encouraged to take the opportunities a simultaneous exit offers. Seeking to take on a commercial lease and create a collaborative maker or retail space in a new location is an option they may explore.

Saunders is unaware of the immediate future plans for the former David Jones building, but considers “Renew’s role in the building’s history to have been very significant”.

“We look forward to continuing with this success in other underutilised spaces,” he said.

Creative Industries at summit of regional development

18 May 2017 | Posted in: News

creative copy

With the ever-growing prominence of Newcastle as a hotbed for successful creative enterprise, it is only appropriate that this year’s Building Regional Development Summit be held a stone’s throw north in Nambucca Heads. With the theme of the summit focusing on jobs, growth and prosperity, the invitation for Renew Newcastle’s General Manager, Christopher Saunders, to be invited as keynote speaker is recognition of the role Renew is playing the local economy.

“Renew was born through the innovation and imagination of people willing to make something happen,” said Christopher.

“It is those people who understand that creativity can breed activity bringing opportunities for urban and employment growth to develop,” he said.

As stated in the NSW Regional Development Framework, some regions have a strong need for projects and funding directed at alternative emerging and self-sufficient industries. It indicates that regional towns with an ageing industry can benefit from low-cost, community led initiatives.

Newcastle is advancing through innovative entrepreneurship within the creative and cultural sectors and illustrates the statement well. It is the initiatives of local creatives and small business owners that carved a new identity for Newcastle.

At the conference Christopher presented how the incubation and continued cultivation of the creative industries instigated not only urban growth and renewal within the Newcastle CBD area but across Australia and the globe. The issue concerning Renew now is how to sustain the cultural integrity of this sector following commercial success and gentrification.

The newly established School of Creative Industries at the University of Newcastle recognises the arts is accumulating significant value within the local and wider economy. The graduation of business ready students from this program forecasts an optimistic future for the increasingly burgeoning creative industries of Newcastle.


The Art of Name-dropping

18 May 2017 | Posted in: News

Ryan performing in church 2

Richilieu? Shimauma? After over two decades of writing, acting, composing, and photography, Ryan Burrett is making a name for himself; in much simpler terms.

“I’ve always kind of had creative aliases… I just think it’s time for me to rely on my name”.

Ryan is the eighth Renew participant to join the league of creatives working within Hamilton’s Clock Tower Studios space. Although the majority of particiapants’ work in Clock Tower Studios centre around professional photography and photo-media, Ryan – in addition to his own photography – will be using his space to compose and record audio and visual material for a number of projects he’s currently involved in. These projects will span from co-producing a series of studio albums to developing a sound bank for commercial audio uses including advertising jingles.

Having spent most of his life living both in Melbourne and overseas writing and performing for theatre, Ryan is thrilled to be back in the little coastal town he remembers from his early youth; “It’s easy to forget just how derelict the mall was and to see how far it’s come”. Ryan is especially looking forward to being in a collaborative working space with other artists and small business owners local to Newcastle;

“It’s at that perfect time where there is a lot of people here doing creative things…

It’s a well-kept secret”.

The Clocktower Studios in Hamilton will be holding an open studio night on the 2nd of June. Exclusive film and photography screenings courtesy of the resident artists will be projected out on the Clocktower courtyard for the public to view.

Another year worth writing home about

17 May 2017 | Posted in: News



As persistent as the cliché may stand, it would be completely naïve to assume that the city of Newcastle isn’t going through a vast amount of change and transition. Newcastle Writer’s Festival founder Rosemarie Milsom understands this well, witnessing how the five year-old event directly coincides with the city’s changing economic and cultural trajectories.

“The well-kept secrets of Newcastle are well and truly out” Rosemarie confidently affirms.

Rosemarie feels that patrons of the three-day event are given the opportunity to experience what the inner city could and should be through the injection of public cultural and intellectual activity. With a growing wealth of hospitality, cafe and dining options within the area – and all in walking distance of the beach – visitors to the festival are being exposed to a location unlike any other. The Festival brings exposure through state and nationwide tourism which is invaluable for Newcastle’s local business environment.

She explains how Newcastle is building its reputation as a community that both values and actively engages with the literary arts. The festival continues to attract larger attendance numbers from locals and guest authors alike; “Newcastle audiences have been really hungry for this kind of event… I think the writer’s pick up on it and that makes it really rewarding for them to participate in”.

Rosemarie anticipates positive things for the future of the arts within Newcastle. Sourcing a significant amount of local talent from the university and being an alumni herself, Rosemarie is dedicated to showcasing the abundance of creative talent our city is increasingly becoming known for.

“I think it’s quite naïve to think that we can hold onto our creatives and that they won’t be tempted by Sydney or Melbourne or Berlin.

An institution like the University of Newcastle deciding to invest in that within the central city area is going to give everything a bit of energy and direction” she said. Hopefully this will encourage our creatives to stay.

Newcastle Writer’s Festival is now taking submissions from established or emerging writers to participate in next year’s program; submissions close midnight 31 July. Newcastle Writer’s Festival 2018 will take place from the 6th to the 8th of April – it’s a date you won’t want to miss.


Beauty behind the spray can

17 May 2017 | Posted in: News


street art 1

Simone Sheridan saw the beauty behind the spray can and began a project commissioning street artists to cover walls with murals as part of the TiNA festival in 2010. Rather than being painted over after the event, the murals were so popular with property owners they not only asked for it to stay on their walls, but commissioned more work and Newcastle began to catch the attention of national street art bloggers.

Being passionate about place making, Simone wanted to give the murals a heartbeat by sharing the story behind the works and the artists. Her cultural brokering business, Street Art Walking, began from a desk at Renew HQ in Morgan Street and aligned closely with Renew’s goals of creating reasons for people to visit underustilised spaces.

During 2011-2014 street art started to explode on walls all over the city and some even tossed around the title of ‘street art capital’ for Newcastle. Street art became part of the fabric of the city’s new creative culture.

Simone has long moved on from her Renew space but public interest in the murals continues. Her walking and cycling tours visit murals around Newcastle. Her knowledge is prolific and her passion for the artwork is infectious. A typical tour discovers giant murals you’ve probably never noticed before and reveals the story behind your favourites. Tours can be booked on request through her website.

Making sure the story continues to grow is one of the challenges. Simone says “construction and development has seen a lot of the murals be demolished or painted over”.

“I’m excited to see the city growing but would like to see this part of our culture continue with murals commissioned as public art and to be seen as important in the contemporary art scene.”

Simone is liaising with Council to establish street art as part of their strategic planning and graffiti management plans. Until this happens, get yourself on a tour before they disappear!