Supporting working in city spaces

Sora Ami, Yasuaki Igarashi, Shared Lines: Wellington, October 2017. image: Ebony Lamb

Sora Ami, Yasuaki Igarashi, Shared Lines: Wellington, October 2017. image: Ebony Lamb

Wellington is full of independent and strong minded creatives.  Our artist and producer-driven initiatives have been profoundly influential in the development of Wellington's ‘creative capital’.  We have so much history and experience to share -  learned the hard way.

So Letting Space is introducing, the UDB mentoring scheme!

As part of its Urban Dream Brokerage Programme Letting Space is offering four artists or collectives peer-to-peer mentoring to help them deliver independent arts projects in public or unconventional spaces in early 2018 in Wellington city. We want to hear from artists now, with their project ideas for the city and their mentoring needs. First deadline Friday 8 December (there will be a second deadline in February, but note its first come first served). We want to help artists share knowledge to produce independent work that interacts with the city and its publics in new ways across all artforms. For more information email urbandreambrokerage@gmail.com or contact Mark Amery 027 3566 128. And make a submission using our online form here (where we ask you to present your project idea and requirements also).  

We’ve expanded our reach to meet the needs we’re hearing from artists – that means assisting in the development of projects for public and underutilised as well vacant spaces, and providing mentoring and more support networks. Producing work in these spaces often involves working independently with a broad skillset. Artists also lack curatorial and governance feedback that others may have, and can be isolated and stretched in their resources as they develop bold new platforms. Let’s help each other!

Following the inspiration of the much-heralded Handshake project for independent practising artists (with an applied arts base) the kaupapa is that established artists and producers hand-over some of their quality knowledge but, as Handshake say “it is a two-way project that encourages symbiosis and give and take.” Let’s empower each other to think differently, and to make new kinds of stakeholder relationships in the city.

This series is working in tandem with the Urban Dreams monthly podcast and conversation series which you can listen to here.

 

Knitting the Sky in Wellington

Kinitting the Sky.jpg

“Knitting nets is universal. If one can knit a net, one can cross the ocean and connect with people. Knitting nets is part of human wisdom. If one can knit a net, one can transcend time and connect with people of the past and future.” Artist Yausaki Igarashi

From Wednesday 18 October for a week a giant colourful fishing net will rise out of Whairepo Lagoon on the Wellington Waterfront, near the Wharewaka, while a second will call out to it across the water from Frank Kitts Park. The nets are Sora-Ami (Knitting the Sky) made by Japanese artist Yasuaki Igarashi in collaboration with communities from around Eastern Japan in the three years following the Shiogama earthquake and tsunami in 2011. They are part of Shared Lines: Wellington - which Urban Dream Brokerage is supporting - a special programme of discussions and exhibitions in Wellington on 17-21 October that open out discussion about the role artists and urban design plays in earthquake resilience and community building post-earthquakes.

The installation of the work at the Wellington Waterfront Lagoon acknowledges the importance of this area to mana whenua Maori, Taranaki Whanui, as a place of fishing and connection.

The origin of Sora-Ami (Knitting the Sky) is a voyage made by the artist after the Eastern Japanese Earthquake and an encounter with a fisherman living on Miyakejima – a volcanic island in the Pacific south of Tokyo that erupts about once every 20 years. Here the artist learned how to knit fishing nets. Since the encounter in June 2011, Yasuaki has brought people together “to knit” in nine different locations throughout Japan, from the temporary housing facilities in disaster-stricken areas like Kamaishi City of Iwate Prefecture and the Urato Islands of Shiogama City in Prefecture Miyagi to Asakura Jinja in Tokyo – the Shinto Shrine whose shrine crest is a net.

The installation of the work at the Wellington Waterfront Lagoon acknowledges the importance of this area to mana whenua Maori, as a place of fishing and connection. The official launch of Sora-Ami (Knitting the Sky) is 10am Wednesday 18 October outside Te Wharewaka o Poneke. The installation will be up for one week only.

The Wellington installation of Sora-Ami (Knitting the Sky) will be the first of three installations as the nets journey to the South Island to be displayed in Christchurch and Kaikoura in a gesture that connects people from these different islands and helps to share experience and ideas.

 

Holding the Space for Mental Wellbeing in the Wellington CBD

"Our popular date-night relaxation choice: Mindfulness with Clay."

"Our popular date-night relaxation choice: Mindfulness with Clay."

It’s been a year of holding the space for mental wellbeing at the second floor of 111 Customhouse Quay in the middle of the ‘business’ end of Wellington, for Co-liberate, a project the Urban Dream Brokerage service has assisted. 

It’s not a typical hang out for theatre graduates, surrounded by small businesses, fluoro lights and blue carpet.  Bop, Jody and Sarah have made it feel strongly welcoming with some simple paint and design solutions, cushions, plants and colouring activities. Now, after a year, CoLiberate are trying to work out how to make their popular workshops and activities, based around pro-active wellbeing, pay. 

“Most mental health services in New Zealand are there for people after they’ve crashed - but preventative care is hard to fund,” says Bop. She mentions the bleak experience many freelance actors and performers have trying to keep themselves ‘up,’ and thinks they have a lot to share. “Artists have this underlying expertise - people care and building self-worth.  As performers we needed a process that helped people feel buoyant – when the people are the work, you have to find a way to help them be well. Good theatre is so close to wellness.”

In this guest blog the CoLiberate team look back on their first year.

Not too long ago, an email popped up from the Urban Dream Brokerage team to let us know that it’s CoLiberate’s one year anniversary at the Studio, the space we have held on Customhouse Quay since the 31 July 2016.  At first we didn’t believe it. A whole year?

The UDB team were among the first to get excited with us. Back then we felt like three little mice with a big vision. We were dreaming about a gym culture for mental health. We knew it mattered. But we had no idea where to start.

UDB are longtime believers in transformation, so they could see the value in drawing together a community around a radical idea - to invite all kinds of people to give emotional workouts a go. To open an ongoing workshop programme to absolutely everyone. To support people to prioritise their mental health just as much as their physical health.

Somehow they got their hands on the key to everything for us… 111 Customhouse Quay. It turns out the place to start was right at the heart of Kiwi mental health: in the middle of the CBD, where so many people struggle to find balance and stability in a relentless Monday to Friday 9-to-5 routine.

We barely had time to do an excited victory lap of the Biz Dojo before we set-to on transforming what had most recently been a law firm’s officeinto Wellington’s first mental health gym. Somewhere purpose designed to help all kinds of people feel at home as they take on a new bold and open attitude to their self-care.

A year ago, we were full of ‘maybe’s and ‘what if ’s.. A year on, we are proud to say that we are an organisation of 11 who have delivered over 250 wellbeing workouts, hosted events, taught programmes, advocated for positive mental health on the TEDx stage and to 2000 plus people at various events around the country. It’s taken us a year at our Customhouse Quay home to build a community around this idea. And now that we have seen the impact, we know how much bigger this needs to get, and fast! 

UDB helped us make the jump from talking about real change, to actually doing it. Now it’s the individuals in the studio who are doing the transforming - and wow it’s been incredible to watch. We get to see all kinds of people developing self-awareness, new skills and habits, connections to purpose and identity, growing their sense of self-worth, and developing strong friendships.  The transformation is personal and powerful and a privilege to be a part of - and it’s still only the start!  The emotional workouts running every week at the moment are Reflective Writing, Wellness Wānanga (for sharing wellness hacks and verbally exploring our inner worlds), Creative Movement, Yoga, and our popular date-night relaxation choice: Mindfulness with Clay.

We can’t believe how much this testing ground has unlocked for us in a year -  we look back on how telling people we ‘needed a mental health gym’ didn’t cut it. But putting out a timetable of emotional workouts for mind health is activating real change.

It has also tested us. More than we ever would have known when we first received those keys.

The perseverance and patience we’ve had to muster as we continue to learn hard lessons about how long change takes to create. About how to pick up and carry on after a no-show session in the early days when no one knew we were there. About how to fund the infinite cups of tea that are a must-have on either side of any good emotional workout! About how to value diverse or even opposite experiences in the very same moment. About how to curate a professional environment to prototype a business model, while still maintaining a homely readiness to host individuals in need of a sanctuary that doesn’t feel like their work environment. We’ve been blown away by how people from such different demographics and backgrounds can find common ground so quickly in a space like the CoLiberate studio.

We’re inspired by the brave individuals who keep turning up to discover with us. To play. To explore. To lean into the hard conversations that can make all the difference in their lives. Those who are proactive about their wellbeing. Who won’t accept New Zealand’s current mental health prognosis. Who want to be a part of a better way.

So what now? We’re working on preparing our community and workplaces to know what to do in times of mental crisis and to know how to invest in their business’ biggest resource: their people.  Mental Health First Aid for the public is on its way, and we won’t stop until we have a country that knows how to cope with anything. 

We’re on track to build the Les Mills of mental health so that we can make positive mind health available to even more Wellingtonians.  

 

 

Urban Dreams Wellington Podcast #1: on mana whenua with Liz Mellish

If art has a role to play in creating public space, how might it better acknowledge the ground, the very context in which it takes place? Its environment, its heritage, its politics. How might it more deeply offer alternatives to the treatment of land as an exchangeable commodity? Let’s start in Aotearoa New Zealand with mana whenua.

In this short lunchtime conversation at the Wharewaka on Wellington’s waterfront with Liz Mellish we talk on the meaning of mana whenua, the role of Te Atiawa ki te Whanganui a Tara (the people who lived around the harbour) and ways artists might better work with mana whenua. 

“Sometimes it feels a bridge too far for people,” says Liz, “and in our country it shouldn’t be like that, it should be easy.”

Key to Liz’s korero is Wellington’s Wharewaka, established in 2011, as a lynchpin for a change in view of the Wellington CBD. Liz touches on how it operates as “a whole village in one building” and some powerful stories: the rock that became the Michael Fowler Centre, and Te Atiawa’s relations with the eagle rays, penguins and homeless who visit and reside in Frank Kitts lagoon. We also hear from artist Kedron Parker on her relationship with mana whenua working at the CBD’s Kumutoto stream.

Liz Mellish is a director of the Wharewaka and Mana Whenua o Poneke, chair of Palmerston North Maori Reserves Trust and member of Urban Dream Brokerage’s Wellington advisory panel. She is in conversation with Letting Space’s Mark Amery.

This is the first of a series of planned recorded monthly conversations in Wellington conducted by Letting Space’s Urban Dream Brokerage service, with support from Wellington City Council and Wellington Community Trust. They are recorded over lunches open to all attend which aim to support artists across disciplines playing an active role in the city outside of conventional venues.   

Urban Dreams Wellington Podcast #1: on mana whenua with Liz Mellish

If art has a role to play in creating public space, how might it better acknowledge the ground, the very context in which it takes place? Its environment, its heritage, its politics. How might it more deeply offer alternatives to the treatment of land as an exchangeable commodity? Let’s start in Aotearoa New Zealand with mana whenua.

In this short lunchtime conversation at the Wharewaka on Wellington’s waterfront with Liz Mellish we talk on the meaning of mana whenua, the role of Te Atiawa ki te Whanganui a Tara (the people who lived around the harbour) and ways artists might better work with mana whenua. 

“Sometimes it feels a bridge too far for people,” says Liz, “and in our country it shouldn’t be like that, it should be easy.”

Key to Liz’s korero is Wellington’s Wharewaka, established in 2011, as a lynchpin for a change in view of the Wellington CBD. Liz touches on how it operates as “a whole village in one building” and some powerful stories: the rock that became the Michael Fowler Centre, and Te Atiawa’s relations with the eagle rays, penguins and homeless who visit and reside in Frank Kitts lagoon. We also hear from artist Kedron Parker on her relationship with mana whenua working at the CBD’s Kumutoto stream.

Liz Mellish is a director of the Wharewaka and Mana Whenua o Poneke, chair of Palmerston North Maori Reserves Trust and member of Urban Dream Brokerage’s Wellington advisory panel. She is in conversation with Letting Space’s Mark Amery.

This is the first of a series of planned recorded monthly conversations in Wellington conducted by Letting Space’s Urban Dream Brokerage service, with support from Wellington City Council and Wellington Community Trust. They are recorded over lunches open to all attend which aim to support artists across disciplines playing an active role in the city outside of conventional venues.   

Making Masterton Dreams Realty

On Wednesday 28 June a spirited group of Masterton people came together for an open community meeting at Te Patukituki (the former Greenworld with its beautiful wooden open ceiling), 15 Queen Street to hatch connections and ideas for the pilot Urban Dream Brokerage in Masterton.

It was time for many introductions, percolating ideas and wishes, plus an impromptu display from Heather Bannister of some beautiful vintage sewing machines -  which she has schemes (with at least 100 she says in her collection!) to see not only on display, but in use by young and old.

It was a pretty remarkable group of about 20 representing a diversity of the community: young and old, Maori and Pakeha, newcomers to the region hungry for initiatives and older timers with a lot of history to share. Even those who professed to not being creative expressed interests that suggested they had plenty to bring.

Jade Waetford of Te Patukituki opened the hui. Te Patukituki is a fledgling community and carving space with some beautiful vision for enabling more young and Maori to feel part of the Masterton CBD, run here in this special space with the support of the Masterton Lands Trust. We’re really looking forward to working with them in partnership to see more community life in this special northern end of the CBD. 

Things are seeding in Masterton. Our call out to all in the community is to think about what causes they’d like to further, collections they know of in backrooms and garages that deserve wider exposure, or ideas for the CBD they could trial (be it an event in open space or project in a vacant space). What ideas could be brought to life that demonstrate some different aspects of this town?

If you’ve got something even starting to percolate drop Anneke Wolterbeek the Urban Dream Broker a line at udbmasterton@gmail.com to talk more on how a dream could be ‘realty’.  

Images: Anneke Wolterbeek

Sharing and learning in Europe

Julian Priest with Sophie Jerram in Helsingor, Denmark

Julian Priest with Sophie Jerram in Helsingor, Denmark

We asked Letting Space's Sophie Jerram what’s she doing in Europe currently for 6 weeks and this was her response:

Primarily I'm retrieving my 15 year old son who has been living here and found Denmark to be a very welcoming and easy place to be 15 in.  But also I’ve been flown to Helsingør (thanks Danish Arts Foundation) - home to Kronborg Castle where Hamlet was set - to present our work and the Urban Dream Brokerage as a potentially radical model of working with artists and communities in incubating new ideas for the town.

Recently colleagues from Copenhagen University launched a co-design project that's been almost a year in design and execution - a park co-designed with children aged 10-12. I helped paint and stencil some of the kids' designs onto wood to help meet the deadline this week.  I taught at the Urban Intervention Studio too with colleagues there - some may recognise Anne Wagner who visited New Zealand recently.

I've just attended an incredible international municipalism summit in Barcelona 'Fearless Cities' with people from 180 countries. In Barcelona in 2015 a group of self-organising activists were voted into key roles in Council, including Mayor, through the platform Barcelona En Comu. Lots of food for thought about how we might be more inclusive in our community planning. I heard about one small town in Spain - Celrá - who used participatory budgeting with residents, and now fund a drop in psychological service in the town, and a service that rings all the elderly residents to wish them a good morning.

I’ve just spoken about Urban Dream Brokerage at a Landscape Futures conference, and my final gig on 10th of July in Utrecht, Netherlands is with the International Association for the Study of the Commons. I will be visiting Urban Commons in Rotterdam and connecting with the great art and policy organisation, Casco.

Looking forward to sharing ideas about co-design, municipalism and landscape with New Zealand on return in August.

Teaching at the urban intervention studio, Copenhagen University

Teaching at the urban intervention studio, Copenhagen University

Urban Dreams Wellington: A Review 2017

A review of the needs of artists working outside conventional venues

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Unsettled, Rana Haddad and Pascal Hachem, Letting Space May 2017. Image: Gabrielle McKone

Introduction

This review has brought together the feedback of artists and arts producers across arts disciplines with extensive experience working in public space outside conventional venues (theatres, galleries and auditoriums). We believe this to be a vital, distinctive aspect of Wellington’s cultural identity past and present.

This is part of an organisational review of the Urban Dream Brokerage (UDB) service in Wellington, run by public art and urban revitalisation organisation Letting Space.  Letting Space and the UDB have played a strong role in the last seven years in brokering spaces and facilitating projects that work in this area. We are two years into a three year contract with Wellington City Council and want to ensure our work is meeting the needs of the diverse, strong practice of artists of all kinds working outside resourced venues, and provide some wider advocacy on their priorities.

Consultation was undertaken with 65 experienced respondents, with a written survey and two two hour hui.

 

“Artists are the life and soul of the city, yet there is no infrastructure for them to develop their companies. There needs to be support for them to be sustainable businesses, like there is support for start-up tech companies.”

 

Summary

Strong calls were made for:

  • More access to development, performance and presentation spaces that allow companies to work together and learn from each other.

  • Mentoring at all levels, with more fluid models. Despite extensive experience, 66% of survey respondents would find mentoring of use in developing professional practice working in new spaces in the city.

  • The establishment of mixed-use spaces that allows for collaboration, community, experimentation and development of audience across producers.

  • More active work by WCC and others in support structures for emerging artists.

  • Involving artists in urban design and other place-based work from early in the process.

  • The retention of a brokering role that assists with negotiating property, public space use and regulatory requirements.

  • The sharing of resources and information between producers and with local authorities, using digital and physical means.

  • Assistance with funding management/applications and process.

  • 89% of respondents would like more opportunities to work in space outside of existing venues in Wellington

  • 41% of respondents do not have sufficient access to affordable space for their practice.

  • 28% said they have sufficient access to affordable space for their practice most of the time but there are times when they could do with more.

 

“For us the issue is in accessing large spaces which are already there e.g. the St James or Opera House. Because they are run by PWV, they become very difficult to access, financially and also with management.”


 

What is needed for artists working outside conventional venues in Wellington? Ground-up responses

SEEKING A SENSE OF PERMISSION

There have been dramatic changes to Wellington over the last 15 years which have impacted on the ability for artists to contribute to the city. Respondents have commented much on the conditions that allowed the development of artists and arts organisations in the city in the 1980s and 1990s and how conditions have changed.

It is perceived that there were less regulatory issues to doing work outside venues in the 1980s and 90s that led to a fertile emerging culture. Property was easier to access, event culture less formalised, it was easier to survive as an artist financially and contribute, and the media and cultural communities were less soloed and more artist-run. More recently access to property has become more difficult due to constraints placed by the 2011-12 and 2016 earthquakes.

It was acknowledged that their have been strong artist-run initiatives established in recent years in terms of visual and performing artist studio, office and exhibition space, yet there is a pervading feeling that artists feel less permission to exercise their use of public space. 

 

“Engage Pasifika and Tangata Whenua in decision making processes about how space is used... The art world can have very fixed ideas about how space and resources should be shared. We need to learn about having face to face conversations, hui and meetings. At which we welcome and feed people.”

 

Common concerns

Generally there was a very strong call for working more in public space, enabling artists to be relevant and have strong social and political connection in people’s lives. An opportunity was recognised by many in independent feedback for Wellington to be far stronger in how it enables artists to contribute to the city. Respondents felt Wellington could really lead in the way in how it approaches funding and considering artist’s regulatory needs in working in public space, building on its solid reputation with innovative art in public space initiatives.

Others:

  • Building on Wellington’s ‘liveable city’ image in enabling the arts to lead in sustainable resource use.

  • Platforms for Maori and Pacific Island practitioners and processes with which they feel comfortable.

  • More mobile, pop-up venue options developed

  • Stronger mechanisms to get mana whenua feedback and meet mana whenua and hui.

  • Changes to the Positively Wellington Venue Subsidy scheme to allow more Wellington artists to use these venues - as venues have become more developed access has also diminished.

  • Clarity on regulations in the use of public space and an agency to assist with this.

  • Artists working in residence and as part of planning from early on in process with WCC and businesses.

  • Dealing to the gaps for artists coming out of university education and transitioning into building professions - there were seen to be more pathways created by these emerging artists themselves in the 1990s

“Forums or open conversations where people who have less connections can meet other artists and/or pitch ideas and gain collaborators... Additionally, offering feedback and/or mentoring artists through application processes for unconventional venues might be helpful.”

 

Survey results in graphic form

 

Verbatim - a selection of comments

“I think the need for UDB / Letting Space is more urgent than ever. Because we now live our lives on-line, we are all part of fractured audiences and our common civic conversation is on the brink of disappearing.”

“As an artist I end up being an administrator, facilitator, and negotiator. I need support with these elements so I can focus on my work.”

“Publicly funded spaces which afford full autonomy. Toi Poneke is a fantastic example of the more formal model that could be adapted. 19 Tory St etc... We shouldn't have a single artist leaving art school without access to space to develop and show work.”

“WCC need to invest in real estate for artists… use more empty space around town, Wellington seems to have heaps (indoor and outdoor). Temporary projects (sculpture garden, open studios, short term residency space for locals with community engagement). We would like to shortcut getting more art in people’s lives, visible to a general audience.”

“Prepare to partner up together with allies and resource share to help make new spaces more viable for people to create their work within.”

“Artists often struggle to build relationships with property managers directly.”

“Some more opportunities for temporary sculptural interventions supported by the Council would be ideal.”

“Greater collaboration between local and Wellington-based businesses… there are almost no New Zealand-based corporate responsibility programs that have a focus on engagement and support of the arts... Collaborating together, this partnership would definitely deepen the role of arts to make it a vital part of our city.”

“Discovering new spaces that are opened up for public or artists allows a deepening and a connection to a place… I want artists to be valued and given trust, time and resources to develop those deeper and more visible roles…”

“Potentially UDB could do a 6 monthly PI mini fest........it would help get the word out and also give a variety of performers a chance to investigate what it means....”

“Encourage artists to be bold and creative within our city-bounds, and resource them more financially, so that they can really commit to telling their stories, and sharing their love of the city, and be less stressed on just surviving. We can't dream effectively if just there for survival. It really is a time of student artists and young artists being forced out by rising rents… WCC must step up and acknowledge we are in the midst of an economic crisis that will drive artists, arts agencies and youth out of Wellington.”

“At Tory Street Studio we have been working closely with the council and our neighbours to reinvent our block of Tory St since being cordoned off after the earthquake. We are thinking about our place in the city and our sense of belonging and finding ways to contribute from the very earliest stages of planning. We see potential for this process to be used again in other sites. We need to re-connect with audiences. People are no longer so committed to attending at commercial venues. People want to engage with work in public spaces.”

“See the council working actively with a range of artists when working on public projects (community centres, public space development, etc) involving the extended arts from the beginning in projects.”

“There needs to be more visible platforms to create momentum and lift the profile of what artists are doing. Regularity and consistency is the best way to support growth. Currently I don't think the arts are well connected with each other in Wellington.”

“Spaces that encourage development in audience and art form. Spaces that don't gobble resources that could be used more effectively in helping to pay artists and performers. Spaces that enable and encourage art practice.”

“Working with different industries: scientists, politicians, economists, medical profession, food and nutrition industry to look at ways in which the arts can respond to and communicate issues that exist across our society. Encouraging discussion around issues, engaging communities who feel strongly about issues to speak and aiding in making them heard.”

“Over the last couple of years we have attempted to make connections with some of Wellington's migrant communities, and to encourage for those communities to present concerts at Pyramid Club. A concert of Persian music last year was an example of a real, positive interaction between a community of fairly recent migrants and the community of an independent arts space. I would love to be able to instigate more events like this.”

“Need to keep producers in Wellington, for Wellington-made events - need more support with this - exciting to imagine a space where producers can work/network/share resources.”

“If we want citizens to engage we need to educate them about the complexities of urban problems. Then we need to unleash the utopian vision. Why not start with kids?  Kids, Schools. Maori and Pasifika communities are doing some of the best work in this area.”

“You have changed the landscape of people using public space and done many good things. I think you need to expand your artists you work with and consider the processes you use to get people involved. I also think you need to protect artists and their projects…  I would like to see a more collective and open approach to developing in the future. People from diverse communities are the ones who know what those communities need. How can you partner with community leaders to listen to and learn from them?”

“The extent of the ongoing positive effects of your work is immeasurable. I have seen many many people transformed through the work carried out in Porirua City alone. There has been a dramatic shift in the city and community thinking which has been amazing to witness and be a part of.”

“I would encourage UDB to go deeper to understanding the needs of the communities of artists with which they work, to make sure that their agreements between building owners and artists work with the needs of the artists.”

 

5. Conclusion and a call for action

Wellington is known for its the multi-disciplinary arts and culture projects that occur outside of conventional spaces. This has a rich history, past and present through events, festivals and artist run spaces. It has been vital in shaping the city’s identity but also fundamental in the development of our stellar artists and their producers. It is our belief that conditions that allow artists to grow as part of the city is vital to any city’s health. Wellington is a city that artists want to be in conversation with, and this has been recognised by the leading role taken by Wellington City Council in public art, and in the growth of some cornerstone event and festival based organisations.

We would like to work with other organisations towards :

  • A programme of mentorship and ongoing conversations that inspire artists to share resources and feel more permission to interact with the city.

  • Advocating and assisting with the activation by artists of public space and underutilised space (as well as vacant commercial space) that speaks directly to the city’s future needs and is in conversation with its history and environment.

  • Clarifying and communicating the requirements for artists wishing to use space outside conventional venues.

  • Assisting in the growth of more artist mixed-use spaces for collaboration, development and presentation.  

  • Advocating the distinctive role in Wellington artists have in a creative use of urban space that involves innovation and participation.      

 

Appendices

The online survey

Sent to 100 identified artists and producers across all disciplines with strong experience working outside conventional venues. We had 35 strong responses. The full survey responses are available as a spreadsheet (anonymous) here.

The respondents (individual comments are not attributed): Claire Mabey  and Andrew Laking (Pirate and Queen, Litcrawl, Loemis), Gabrielle O’Connor (artist), Sam Trubridge (Performance Arcade), Kedron Parker (artist), Sian Torrington (artist), Anton Carter (DANZ), Gina Matchitt (artist), Jordana Bragg (artist, Meanwhile), Jo Randerson (Barbarian), Erica Van Zon (artist, WCC), Robbie Whyte (artist), Gina Matchitt (artist), Barry Thomas (artist, Yeti Productions), Joel Baxendale (Binge Culture), Ania Upstill (artist), Jhana Millers (artist, 30 Upstairs, The Seehere), Sian Torrington (artist), Andreas Lepper (musician), Leo Gene Peters (theatre, An Isolated Dog), Bryce Galloway (artist, Massey), Ebony Lamb (musician), Kerry Ann lee (artist), Daniel Beban (musician, Pyramid Club/FREDS), Debbie Fish (producer, Goldfish Creative), Hannah Smith (Trick of the Light Theatre), Kirsty Lilico/Ruth Thomas Edmond (artists, Tory Street Studios), Linda Lee (artist, produced Shared Lines), Lucy Marinkovich (dancer, Borderline Arts Ensemble), Malia Johnston (choreographer, Movement of the Human), Marcus McShane (light artist), Mark Williams (Circuit), Paul Forrest (artist), Ruby Joy Eade (artist), Sherilee Kahui (Hank of Thread), Sian Montgomery-Neutze (artist, Toi Wahine), Sophie Davis (Enjoy Gallery) and Tanemahuta Gray (choreographer, Kahukura Taki Rua Productions).

B. Two two-hour Hui

These were held with an open invitation and attended by 30 people. We were very pleased with the interest and the high calibre of experience brought together. We identified projects historically that have been significant and considered the conditions that enables them, shared our dreams for the city and discussed some practical tools going forward. The combined minutes of these hui are below.

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Masterton brokerage open for creative ideas

Children engage with Liana’s Parlour of Natural Beauty, a recent project by Liana Stupples in Lower Hutt which brought all the natural goodness of the surrounding environment into a vacant retail space. Image: Dionne Ward

Children engage with Liana’s Parlour of Natural Beauty, a recent project by Liana Stupples in Lower Hutt which brought all the natural goodness of the surrounding environment into a vacant retail space. Image: Dionne Ward

A new programme in Masterton wants to help you realise your urban dreams. Part of the Our Future Masterton programme, the Urban Dream Brokerage is calling for ideas for activities and uses for vacant commercial and public space which explore new ways to use space and give more life to the Masterton CBD. Following workshops held with the community in 2016 and recently through Unicef with school students, the call is for ideas that are innovative and participatory, and speak to different options for changes to the town centre

Proposals are due by the last Friday of every month, starting this month. Ideas may be proposed by a webpage or discussed with Masterton’s recently appointed ‘urban dream broker’ Anneke Wolterbeek (udbmasterton@gmail.com Ph. 027 5664600).

“We’re interested in all innovative ideas that help create a better connected community, strengthen connections between age groups, and recognise and build capability for mana whenua,” says Wolterbeek. “The community has asked for projects that create more shared spaces, strengthen connections between spaces and represent Masterton’s heritage, culture and amazing environment. There is so much potential here. Ideas should operate differently to businesses and activities already in existence - who we want to support by bringing more people to the centre.”

Urban Dream Brokerage is a programme run by public art and urban revitalisation organisation Letting Space, who already run such a model successfully in Wellington, Dunedin and Porirua. The programme will run as a pilot until the end of this year. The brokerage service has facilitated over 70 projects, and has been heralded by property owners, community groups and councils alike nationally. 70% of the 34 properties occupied in Wellington over the last four years have been re-tenanted since the programme began.

Ideas have ranged from a political hair salon, where young people are encouraged to discuss politics, to an ‘Imaginarium’, a playspace for young and old alike who are welcomed to create their own cardboard constructions. There have been illuminated bike parades, fashion recycling workshops, a video game museum and a bicycle library. The latest project in Dunedin Sunroom brings the sun into a vacant shop using projections beamed from solar telescopes around the world.

Local Masterton broker Anneke Wolterbeek is being supported by a local advisory group. “ Lots of strong common ideas have already come through from the workshops” says Wolterbeek, “in terms of a keen desire for changes to CBD spaces and the kind of activities that our Urban Dream Brokerage can help enable”.

A former secretary and committees’ chair for the Rotary club of Masterton, Wolterbeek has been an active member of the EOC team (Wairarapa Emergency Operations Centre) of Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (REMO) and Chair of the Rotary District International Friendship Exchange Committee. Passionate about community development and sustainability, she is treasurer for the Wellington Region Waste Forum, club secretary for the Wairarapa Beekeepers Club and the organiser of the monthly Wairarapa Dogwalk Club. Wolterbeek previously worked for the Greater Wellington Regional Council as a Environmental Policy Advisor in Masterton.

“I enjoy being able to positively influence and improve the physical and social environment of our community in Masterton,” says Anneke, “and have plenty of work and life experience in other parts of the world as well. This job as part of the Our Future Masterton project is special to me: it is a chance to help the community realise creative ideas with business, property owners, Iwi and council that explore vision for the future of Masterton.”

The Urban Dream Brokerage Masterton is part of a wider Our Future Masterton programme, which is being run by Letting Space in partnership with the Toi Aria Design for Public Good programme at Massey University. It is being funded by the Masterton District Council. Following a series of community workshops in 2016, Our Future Masterton is now getting up and running to help enable a citizen driven 50-year vision for the Masterton town centre.

“The nature of our town centre is changing, and this programme recognises that,” says District Council chief executive Pim Borren. “It puts more of the ownership and control of planning for our future in the hands of the full diversity of the people who will inherit it, not just council staff or any particular interest group in Masterton. We very excited to sponsor this project.”

Reports from the 2016 workshops are available to view here on the Masterton District Council website, and a Facebook page is a portal for information about the project. Here the public can keep up to date with updates.

As part of the programme, an interactive hub space is being created by Toi Aria which will allow the public to continue to make contributions, showcase the community’s ideas and visualisations of options for the CBD, including past proposals. The focus is on trialling ideas that lead to a 50 year vision for Masterton that recognises that real substantive changes happen in towns when the community feels enabled to realise their ideas and lead over time. When people are empowered in a community where they can make a difference, a partnership and trust can happen with their local government.

Introducing Anneke Wolterbeek - Masterton Urban Dream Broker

We are excited to announce the appointment of a broker for an Urban Dream Brokerage in Masterton, helping enable the community to trial ideas for the use of space in the CBD.

Anneke Wolterbeek is Masterton-based and will be supported by a both a Masterton advisory group and the teams at Letting Space and Massey University’s Toi Aria, Design for Public Good programme.

Annekewithpuppy.jpg

A former secretary and committees’ chair for the Rotary club of Masterton, Wolterbeek has been an active member of the EOC team (Wairarapa Emergency Operations Centre) of Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (REMO) and Chair of the Rotary District International Friendship Exchange Committee. Passionate about community development and sustainability, she is treasurer for the Wellington Region Waste Forum, club secretary for the Wairarapa Beekeepers Club and is the organiser of the monthly Wairarapa Dogwalk Club.

Wolterbeek previously worked for the Greater Wellington Regional Council as a Environmental Policy Advisor in Masterton, and prior to that; in policy and resource planning with the New Zealand Transport Agency and Whangarei District Council. She originally hails from the Netherlands where she has worked in natural resource policy planning and advising. She has also held positions within the environmental, agricultural and science fields working with local government, government ministries and universities. She has worked on sustainable housing projects and Community Neighbourhood committees that were concerned with the service and spatial development of a city.

“I enjoy being able to positively influence and improve the physical and social environment of our community in Masterton,” says Anneke, “and have plenty of work and life experience in other parts of the world as well. I am passionate about life in rural New Zealand and the Wairarapa. This job as part of the Our Future Masterton project is special to me: it is a chance to help the community realise creative ideas with business, property owners, Iwi and council that explore vision for the future of Masterton.”

The Urban Dream Brokerage Masterton is part of a wider Our Future Masterton programme. Following a series of community workshops in 2016, Our Future Masterton is now getting up and running to help enable a citizen driven 50-year vision for the Masterton town centre.

“The nature of our town centre is changing, and this programme recognises that,” says District Council chief executive Pim Borren. “It puts more of the ownership and control of planning for our future in the hands of the full diversity of the people who will inherit it, not just council staff or any particular interest group in Masterton. We very excited to sponsor this project.”

“This isn’t a project about making immediate permanent changes in the Masterton centre," says Letting Space's Mark Amery, "rather it provides a space to trial fun, engaging ideas from the public, who best know their town. It’s an open project, gathering past ideas that have been left unrealised together with the new.”

Reports from the 2016 workshops are now available to view here on the Masterton District Council website, and a Facebook page is a portal for information about the project. Here the public can keep up to date with updates.

Urban Dream Brokerage is a programme Letting Space already run successfully in Wellington, Dunedin and Porirua with council, community trust and chamber of commerce support. There will shortly be a call out publicly for ideas. Urban Dream Brokerage brokers the use of vacant commercial space and public space for innovative ideas generated by the community, encouraging the revitalisation of CBDs and testing out new uses for public areas. The Urban Dream Brokerage service has facilitated over 70 projects over three centres, and has been heralded by property owners, community groups and councils alike nationally in helping revive CBDs. 70% of the 34 properties occupied in Wellington city over the last four years have been re-tenanted after activation.

Position available: Urban Dream Brokerage Masterton Broker

Kia ora Masterton,

As part of the Our Future Masterton programme (information below) we are looking to employ a special Masterton-area based person for a part-time short term contract for service, starting late May/early June running potentially until Christmas.  The deadline for applications is 9am, Monday 15th May, 2017. READ ON for the job description.

Advertised Position: Urban Dream Brokerage Masterton Broker

Are you passionate about Masterton’s future? Would you like to contribute by helping enable your fellow citizens to try out events and ideas that help develop a CBD that feels owned by all as a place for all? Do you have strong diverse local networks and feel you can talk to the local community, artists and property owners alike? This is a role to create exciting new opportunities in Masterton, developed by the community helping re-imagine the use of the different spaces and sites around the CBD through public space events and vacant space projects? The broker’s role is to help facilitate these, rather than actually produce them.

Letting Space is looking to contract a self-motivated person to make a real contribution to the revitalisation of Masterton. Through OUR FUTURE MASTERTON the Urban Dream Brokerage service (currently running in Wellington and Dunedin with Letting Space www.urbandreambrokerage.org.nz) the Broker will process applications from creative thinkers with dynamic projects for vacant commercial spaces and public spaces. They will be good at inspiring locals to think outside the box and develop their ideas to their potential, work closely with property owners, council and retailers and negotiate to secure sites and spaces under temporary licensing arrangements. They will promote these projects through a variety of media and community channels.

The broker will be strong at making contacts with business people, community groups, artists and the media. They will be good at spreading the word about this programme. This is a part-time contract for service available on flexible terms for $9000.

Application due: 9am, Monday 15th May, 2017

Interviews: Between 9-5pm, 17th or 18th May (please ensure you are available)

Start work: 6th June, reviewed August, ends by 29th December 2017

 

Job description

Broker Role

The primary purpose of the role is to successfully coordinate the placement of fresh, unique and creative projects and events into vacant commercial spaces and public spaces within the Masterton town centre.

The secondary purpose will be to advocate and promote these projects, helping lead to the revitalisation of Masterton CBD in the eyes of the community, property and business worlds alike.

Your role will involve:

1. Implementing strategies to maintain buy-in from property owners and to promote the benefits of the brokerage.

2. Developing a marketing strategy with assistance from Letting Space and promoting successfully brokered projects to a wide audience.  

3. Promoting the brokerage to the local community, meeting and discussing criteria with potential applicants, following on from the community workshops this programme has undertaken in 2016, which elicited many ideas for the CBD from locals..

4. Liaising with other key stakeholders such as retailers, Lands Trust, arts, community and business groups, Masterton City Council, Chamber of Commerce and key individual affiliates connected to the property industry.

5. Being part of the Urban Dream Brokerage national team, offering each other support and working closely with both Letting Space and Toi Aria: Design for Public Good, Massey University.

6. Liase with the Urban Dream Brokerage Masterton Advisory group, for advice and leads as needed. This group is made up of a diverse body of 20 or more Masterton based people, with strong networks between them.

5. Research, document and maintain a database of applicants and property owners.

6. Develop and write editorial relating to successful projects, and develop newsletters, social media posts or other informative material.

7. Negotiate License Agreements and Special Conditions with property owners, based on existing templates.

8. Arrange property inspections to assess condition of sites and suitability for their use.

9. Coordinate repair and maintenance works and contribute to Property Risk Management procedures

10. Develop initial relationships with further potential funders/partners of the Brokerage.

11. Maintain excellent relationships with property owners and artists.

12. Contribute to communication of the Our Future Masterton programme with the rest of the team (see below).

Reporting

The Broker will be expected to be able to work independently, but will be briefed and guided by Letting Space Directors / Urban Dream Managers: Sophie Jerram, Mark Amery, Helen Kirlew Smith and contracted through the Wellington Independent Arts Trust (WIAT). Contribution will also be made by programme partners Toi Aria, Massey University, who WIAT have a subcontract with to complete this work.

Contract

This is a position for an Independent contractor for an Initial Period of two months (8 weeks) with the potential to extend for up to a seven month period (29th December 2017).

This is a part-time contract for service available on flexible terms with the number of hours per week to be set ($25-$30 an hour - depending on experience). The position is expected to start on 6th June 2017, but may commence earlier if the broker is available to do so.

Selection Criteria

This position involves being able to work across the community, creative, property and business worlds. The successful applicant may have their principal experience in either of these areas, but in bridging these interests will bring an understanding and appreciation of all of them.

Essential

1. Passion for the renewal and revitalisation of Masterton  and a belief in the important role that community play as agents of change.

2. Excellent verbal, and written and personal communication skills

3. Good thorough documentation skills

4. Good budgeting and project management skills

5. Confident, dynamic, tenacious and self-motivated personal qualities

Important

1. Understanding, knowledge and appreciation of the business, community and property worlds of Masterton

2. Project management/coordination experience

3. Understanding and appreciating of the role public art can play in urban development

4. Experience/background in real estate, creative and property industries or urban development

5. Experience in negotiations

6. Experience with maintenance/building/property service providers

To apply

Please email urbandreambrokerage@gmail.com the following documents:

1. CV – no more than 2 pages

2. Your written response to all the Selection Criteria

In the subject of your email please include the words: Job Application: Broker  [insert your name]

Enquiries

Email as above or phone Sophie Jerram telephone: 029 934 9749 or Mark Amery 027 3566 128

This position is funded with the sponsorship of the Masterton City Council.

 

INFORMATION ON: OUR FUTURE MASTERTON

AHUTAKI KI MUA MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER

Participate in creating a future Masterton. Through a range of fun activities be part a citizen-led design for Masterton and its CBD. Not just for next year, but for the decades ahead: a legacy to future generations, that young and old contribute to. A collective 50-year vision.

Who are we? We are the Masterton community, but with facilitation and inspiration from an experienced team from Toi Āria: Design for the Public Good, Massey University and Letting Space, an independent public art and urban revitalisation organisation. The programme has been sponsored by Masterton District Council.

The programme includes:

·      Urban Dream Brokerage, calling for innovative new ideas for public and vacant commercial spaces from the community, and then brokering spaces for those that meet the community’s goals as events over 2017. The brokerage has a local broker and diverse local advisory panel.

·      An Our Future Masterton Hub: a hands-on interactive space where you can contribute ideas for the future, comment on others ideas, past and present, and potential areas of physical spatial change in the CBD – through both displays and mini-workshops.

·      Visualisations of potential options for creating new and connected spaces in the Masterton CBD to stimulate further discussion and contribution.

CBDs really flourish through participation and strong leadership from all sectors of the community, not just those perceived most powerful. Following initial citizen contributions in 2016 workshops, our focus is exploring ways to create a well-connected and generous community, strengthen inter-generational connections, and recognise and build capability with tangata whenua. Physically, we have been asked to look to create shared spaces, strengthen connections between spaces, and strengthen connections to Masterton’s heritage and history, and the CBD’s connection to nature.

Get in touch with your ideas and thoughts – they will shape our future Masterton.

ENDS.


 

Welcomes

Just before Christmas Urban Dream Broker Tamsin Cooper brought into the world a new human light, Hafwen. Congratulations to Tamsin and her whanau.

While she is on maternity leave we welcome Katrina Thomson to the Broker chair in Dunedin. Katrina is a visual artist living and working in Dunedin with a long-standing involvement in the art community of Dunedin, including collaborative curatorial work with the Anteroom Charitable Arts Trust, work for the Dunedin Midwinter Carnival, and helping out or being helped out with a vast array of her own and her contemporaries’ art projects.

Her own interesting practice incorporates sculpture, objects, installation, sound, performance and uses unconventional spaces to create events or installations. She has been on international residencies in Japan, Iceland and Mexico.

Thomson utilises her sculpture skills for art commissions, and in the past worked at Otago Polytechnic’s workSpace where she sculpted the Dunedin City Council’s artisanal street furniture for the Dunedin Warehouse Precinct, helped build Rachel Rakena’s Haka Peep Show commissioned by the Dunedin City Council and Ngai Tahu, and worked on various interactive exhibits for the Otago Museum, Toitu, and museums in Christchurch and Malaysia.

She loves the process of brainstorming, collaborating with others, and supporting creative activity and is excited to have the opportunity to work with Urban Dream Brokerage and interesting new projects in Dunedin.

With her knowledge and skills we're very lucky to have her with Letting Space for a few months.

Tamsin Cooper Wraps Up the Season From Dunedin

Image from Citizen Stylist. Photo: Justin Spiers

Image from Citizen Stylist. Photo: Justin Spiers

Urban Dream Brokerage Dunedin wrapped up the year with it's most fashionable project Citizen Stylist at 23 Princes St. I'm delighted to have helped broker nine diverse projects this year in Dunedin. These have covered many discipines and touched very different audiences: from a live digital mirror in Wall St Mall to an underground performance installation, and a retro games museum that boasted over 3,600 visitors in just 11 days!

These projects could only have happened with the generous goodwill and spirit of our property owners in Dunedin's CBD, and we would like to extend a huge thank you to David Marsh, Justin Stott, Neville Hall, Tim Buchanan and Sarah Stevenson.

UDB Dunedin also has a wonderfully active advisory panel who together have selected these interesting offerings to grace our streets. Thank you to: Cara Paterson, Josh Thomas, Chanel O'Brien, Peter Christos, Ali Bramwell, Vicki Lenihan, Caro McCaw, Annie Villers and Kirsty Glengarry for your huge effort, constructive opinions and precious time this year!

An enormous thank you to the artists and designers who have given their tremendous talents and trust in UDB to create new experiences in the heart of our city for all to enjoy.

From February - April 2017 we happily introduce Katrina Thomson who will be taking over as broker while I am away on Maternity leave.

As a final sparkling Christmas gift from UDB Dunedin we would like to let you know that we are proud to announce we are the recipients of a grant from the Gigcity Community Fund for two new significant digital commissions for 2017. A call out for submissions will be made in late January 2017.

Need for diversity in our cities says Property Council head

UDB project Retro Games Museum in Dunedin. Image: Justin Spiers.

UDB project Retro Games Museum in Dunedin. Image: Justin Spiers.

2016 saw strong economic recovery in cities and towns across New Zealand. But there remain plenty of vacant spaces

Architect, property developer and current President of the Wellington Branch of the Property Council of New Zealand Mike Cole is a welcome member of the Urban Dream Brokerage’s Advisory Board, with a real passion for the city's future.

“Wellington has come a long way from the relatively grey city it was when I arrived in 1982," wrote Mike to us. "Many people have put their heart and souls into making it the creative capital of New Zealand. All of our established companies here, be they in software or theatre, were founded by people passionate about both their particular field and about Wellington.”

"The work of Urban Dream Brokerage creates a win-win for property owners and innovative projects. These vacant properties are often then seen in a new light and leased post-event. Artists have a space for their projects which encourages diversity, a sense of community and public interaction in our cities.”

Urban Dream Brokerage has also been working with property owners, councils and communities in Porirua and Masterton.

"Our town and city centres rely on people being involved to grow their identity and character. As the economy recovers it can be even harder for new ideas to find space," says Mark Amery.

As at the end of 2016, working with 35 property owners, the Urban Dream Brokerage has filled more than 55 vacant spaces with innovative creative projects in Wellington city, Porirua and Dunedin. The majority have led to new tenancies.

“There have been 48 projects in Wellington alone, ranging from a ‘Moodbank’ – a place for Wellingtonians in a disused bank to register their moods – to a community-made giant iceberg, a koha café, an illuminated bike workshop and a “political hair salon”. In Dunedin recently over 3500 people in two weeks went to a Retro Games Museum in George Street, created from one man’s collection that usually fills two houses,” Mr Amery says.

Urban Dream Brokerage brings together commercial property owners with projects. Architect, property developer and current President of the Wellington Branch of the Property Council of New Zealand Mike Cole is a member of the Urban Dream Brokerage’s Advisory Board.

Recent 2016 Urban Dream Brokerage projects include the Lux Festival Light show Glade which attracted more than 5000 visitors to Clyde Quay Wharf, and in November a bold adaptation of a Shakespearean play set in the historic Grand Hall at the Public Trust Building, which has since been taken over by council as an Earthquake Response Centre.

“These uses of vacant space also provides a tangible way for property owners to contribute to the community,” Mr Amery says.

Mapping Wellington Vacant Space Occupation

It's four years since Letting Space's UDB service in Wellington launched this website and we've got a pretty picture to show for it. Our big thanks to the property owners who have joined with us in sharing a vision for a more diverse and liveable city.  34 properties and 48 projects in Wellington city, and counting. The dots on the edge of the frame denote properties brokered in Newtown and Johnsonville.

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Living the Suburban Dream

"And most importantly we have created a place, and an inclusive community where people that were isolated and working alone can call home. Locally." Creating a home for enterprise and collaboration in the suburbs: Kathleen Wright on UDB project Sub Urban Co-Working in Johnsonville a year in.

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