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The Brisbane City Council is hoping to stem a cultural drain from West End by creating a new hub for artists, musicians, actors and performers. The council will cover two years of rent on a large warehouse space on Montague Road with numerous studios, workspaces and meeting rooms, giving emerging artists and creative professionals an inner-city base to create, exhibit, collaborate and perform.
The hub was initially promised after the West Village development displaced creatives from the ABSOE site.
An expression of interest is currently open for non-profit community organisations to sub-lease the property from council. The successful operator will decide who can then use the space and their time-frame of occupation, and will be responsible for funding maintenance, cleaning and collecting rent to cover these costs (“All rental charges must be set at a reasonable rate,” the council’s EOI guideline says).
“One of the biggest creative hubs on the West End was always the old ABSOE site,” says Jonathan Sri, city councillor for the Gabba Ward. “Last year developers received approval for seven very tall towers – some as tall as 22 storeys. That space is now being used for luxury high-density residential living.”
Sri, who was formally a musician and event organiser, says creative spaces tend to only last a few years before closing or relocating. “Creative professionals spend a lot of time and energy building up these hubs and adding value to the community … and then the rent goes up and their project has to relocate,” he says. “[Hopefully this project] will go some way towards ensuring creative professionals can still find affordable workspaces around West End.”
The (very short) expression of interest period will close midnight this Friday July 21, 2017. Sri is currently pushing for this to be extended, and encourages all creatives to apply, saying in a Facebook post: “You might find that even if you don't get offered the head tenancy, the council might encourage the successful head tenant to take you on as a sub-tenant.”