Despite a bleak few weeks of dark clouds, biting winds and inevitable downpours in Newcastle, there are certainly green shoots emerging, to signal that Spring is on its way. The brighter months ahead will also bring some fresh changes to the Renew Newcastle organisation and its team.
As of 29 August 2014 General Manager Marni Jackson is departing Newcastle after almost 6 years with the company, to take up an exciting new role as Cultural Projects Manager with City of Sydney.
Marcus Westbury & Marni Jackson at the ‘0 – 100 Projects’ Exhibition Launch. Pic by Boony Loahajaroenyot, 2014
Marni has been involved with the organisation from its inception, signing the company application papers at the invitation of Renew Newcastle Founder and Creative Director Marcus Westbury, along with former Director Craig Allchin, in October 2008.
Since the first Renew Newcastle projects were given keys in January 2009, the organisation has supported 155 arts, creative and community projects to take place, brokering access to 67 otherwise empty properties in the Newcastle city centre. Ms Jackson has built the program from the point when it was just an idea to an initiative that as of today runs 54 projects in 25 properties – a bigger program than at any time in its history.
Marcus Westbury said today: “Marni is one of the most outstanding people I’ve ever met and worked with. Her dedication, patience, vigilance, and persistence has been instrumental to the success for Renew Newcastle from the very beginning.”
In a farewell statement, Ms Jackson said: “I feel very privileged to have been able to do this work. Growing the organisation to its position today and seeing the palpable difference this program has made to the culture and life of the city are my proudest achievements. Renew Newcastle has been a breakthrough and inspirational program. It continues to be deeply relevant to the growth of the city, and I look forward to seeing what a new team can introduce into the landscape.”
Marni will be replaced in the role by Christopher Saunders, who has more than 2 years experience with the organisation in the role of Property Manager and delivering Project Support Services.
Christopher brings with him more than 20 years experience of working in community arts projects, most recently as Creative Producer with arts and social change organisation Big hArt. Christopher also project managed the rebuild and restoration of The Regal Cinema at Birmingham Gardens.
Mr Saunders was promoted to the role due to his thorough understanding of Renew Newcastle operations, existing community relationships, and his passion for the organisation and its role in Newcastle’s revitalisation.
On the appointment of Christopher Saunders, Marcus Westbury said “Renew Newcastle – and Newcastle itself – is going through a period of change and transition at the moment. Given the way he has grown into his existing roles within Renew Newcastle, Christopher is the best possible person to take on the challenges and opportunities of this exciting new era.”
Chairperson, Roderick Smith states, “It’s been a wonderful experience working with Marni from the very beginning of this initiative. Her passion for the creative community, commitment to the organisation and approach to what is a very demanding role is deeply appreciated. We wish her well in her new role and will miss her very much. We also happily welcome Chris and I look forward to continuing our work with him in providing a vital service to the city centre during its transitional stages.”
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Goodbye Message from Marni Jackson
“It’s incredible to think back to the early days of the organisation – we had quite modest goals, were so pleased to be able to make even a handful of fun projects happen in these spaces. After all, something was better than the nothing that was blowing through the Mall, right?
After a couple of years of facilitating those projects – still learning how to juggle the sometimes competing interests of our stakeholders, getting into new territories right alongside those artists and creative who were developing their practice and ideas and enterprise – I realised we weren’t just bringing some colour back into town, we were supporting local people to make their dreams happen. And changing the face of the city in the process. I feel very privileged to have been able to do this work.
Working with the artists, my team, and Board members past and present has been thoroughly rewarding. In particular, I give extra special thanks to Marcus Westbury who had a brilliant idea, and honoured me by inviting me in to help bring it to fruition and make it shine. We developed a great partnership – driven by equal parts of vision, strategy, systems and sensitivity – but his confidence in my work and capacity has been everything.
Growing the organisation to its position today and seeing the palpable difference this program has made to the culture and life of the city are my proudest achievements. It’s a rare opportunity to be part of a genuinely game-changing project.
Aside from my preferred colour palettes and fashion frills, I’m generally reserved. But I’ve no hesitation in claiming the significance of the program to Newcastle’s revitalisation: Renew Newcastle has been, and is, a breakthrough and inspirational program. It continues to be deeply relevant to the growth of the city, and I look forward to seeing what a new team can introduce into the landscape.
All the best, Newcastle!
Marni Jackson leading the “New Adventures” Walking Tour, from the former Renew HQ in Morgan St. Pic by Simone Sheridan, 2012