More than 250 small businesses, mostly artists with a desire to exhibit their wares, have been given a chance to remake their city through the short-term rental of vacant buildings thanks to the grassroots-driven Renew Newcastle urban renewal concept that started almost nine years ago in the city’s East End.
On Thursday, the success story of Renew, which has become a global example of how to reinvent decaying inner city properties, will be unveiled through a pair of “black boxes”, at NewSpace on Hunter Street.
The two travelling boxes, styled like rock’n’roll road cases, contain a treasure of photos, slideshows, graphic signs, videos and hand-crafted products. While a $10,000 state grant got things rolling, another $20,000 worth of in-kind services on the project has turned it into a state-of-the-art display unit that can easily travel and exhibit anywhere in the world.
As Renew Newcastle general manager Christopher Saunders said, “It comes from building something from nothing” – a nod to the creative abilities of Newcastle’s artisans.
“It serves as a legacy for Renew over the last eight years. But it also serves as, ‘this is what we can do’ at a local level,” he said.
Newcastle designer and creative consultant Jono Everett built the boxes and all of the moving parts (elements can be easily updated), with Edwina Richards contributing and curating photos and videos from Renew clients and Carl Morgan from Zookraft, one of the original Renew tenants, contributing the graphics.
The launch of Renew in a Box is at 5.30pm Thursday at NewSpace, corner of Auckland and Hunter streets.