Art for vacant capital properties

SHOP FILLER: A Java Dance Installation in Mark Horsfall's vacant Newtown shop organised by the Urban Dream Brokerage.
SHOP FILLER: A Java Dance Installation in Mark Horsfall's vacant Newtown shop organised by the Urban Dream Brokerage.

A local group is looking to usefully fill some of Wellington's vacant shop space.

The Urban Dream Brokerage, an organisation funded by Wellington City Council and Wellington Community Trust, is inviting artists and designers, community groups, social entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses to pitch ideas for interacting with the city in new ways in 2014.

It will then approach owners of vacant shops to make their space available.

Established by Letting Space, Urban Dream Brokerage ran as a pilot over the last 15 months.

The Brokerage placed 15 creative projects into vacant retail spaces around the city.

These included the People's Cinema, the Moodbank in Cuba St where people could "deposit" their mood and consider the mood of the city, a waiting room in Cuba Mall, innovative theatre productions, a jewellery workshop and exhibition space in Willis St (Occupation Artists) and a space displaying hundreds of wedding dresses where the public were asked their views on marriage on the eve of the passing of the Marriage Amendment Act.

Mark Farrar, from the council's funding team, said the the Urban Dream Brokerage gave Wellington innovative and exciting public art, helped creative industries and asked provocative questions about social and cultural issues. Urban Dream broker Helen Kirlew Smith, said the city's resilience was determined by how it responded to changing circumstances.

Over the past four years there had also been a steady increase in retail and other commercial vacancies, with most of that increase in the heart of the CBD.

The most recently published figures showed vacancies at 13.7 per cent.

She said the aim was to bring empty spaces to life for more people and bring new tenants for property owners.

"The use of these spaces reduces vandalism and graffiti and many of our projects lead to new tenancies for these buildings."

Proposed projects for the Urban Dream Brokerage need to be unique, innovative, bring life to the city and be open to the public.

Projects may be temporary one-off trials or designed to be ongoing. "Our job is not to replicate what already exists. This is an opportunity to develop new ideas with the public."

Project proposals can be submitted to the www.urbandreambrokerage.org.nz

Wellington