Spring Fever

 Imaginarium at Readings on Courtenay Place

Imaginarium at Readings on Courtenay Place

With the beginning of Spring, brokerage of Wellington vacant city space Urban Dream Brokerage is stepping up a level. Four projects using vacant retail space in creative new ways, bringing community, diversity and new ideas to the city are have been up and running concurrently. Lined up behind them are many more awaiting final confirmation of spaces, as the CBD retail district gears up for WOW Festival at the end of September and the final dash to Christmas.

Just opened is a rather distinctive employment of a whole multileveled office building at 111 Dixon Street (between Willis and Victoria). Formerly the offices of Sharp, and owned by Overton Holdings, a warren of rooms, corridors and foyers have been transformed into a mysterious ‘accommodation provider’ by Long Cloud Youth Theatre, for their fascinating devised work The Mountebank Hotel. Attendees are invited to a party in the upstairs function room, from where they move around the building’s rooms meeting staff and piecing together cryptic clues from the characters they meet in an attempt to discover who their elusive host is. David Lynch meets Wikileaks. This is theatre strongly meeting the UDB’s brief for innovation and a unique use of space, creating work that playfully responds to existing uses of city realty.

Meanwhile another theatre work, Battle Hymn from Red Scare Collective is currently in rehearsal and design build in a property owned by The Wellington Company in Left Bank, off Cuba Mall. Transforming a less visible corner of an urban area into a fresh collaboration between a director and composer, it opens 18 September.

Last week Imaginarium had about 1000 people through the old Whitcoulls in the Reading Cinema Courtenay Central complex, leading to an explosion of giant cardboard box creations and other contributions. Exhibiting boundary-less energy Amy Church and Hayley Jeffrey have steered an ever growing team working with the public and visiting groups to exercise their creative spirits in this large former retail site, and have also welcomed a range of muralists and performers. They aptly describe it as a gym for the creative mind. It’s an ever-evolving urban playground for all ages, with Amy and Hayley encouraging all to contribute their ideas for the space. There is magic happening here constantly.

Finally, we’re also very grateful for a partnership with Positively Wellington Tourism which is seeing the use by UDB of the former Nui Café on Wakefield Street (next to council and the tourism information centre) for unique projects. This past week the ingenious Political Cuts from Barbarian Productions (who produced Brides with UDB last year) has opened getting a lot of attention. A ‘political salon’ where you can get a haircut and a coffee in exchange for conversation on your political views on a range of topics, the project encourages young people, in particular, to vote and us all to share and care about the major issues affecting the country. When we last popped in the three main Wellington central political candidates were giving the hairdresser a haircut while asking him about what the public feedback he was getting was. Political Cuts is another brilliant example for UDB of how we need to create new, different kinds of spaces for people of all persuasions to meet and share in Wellington city.

There are a heap of images of these projects accessible by clicking on the links above or their respective images on the UDB homepage: www.urbandreambrokerage.org.nz and lots of updates running through our Facebook page. More project announcements just around the corner!