“Wellington vitally needs infrastructure which supports contemporary practice like the UDB.” Jo Randerson, Barbarian Productions

Got an Innovative Idea?

We are looking for innovative ideas that build community and diversity in the city and develop people through the unique, original use of vacant retail space. 

UDB Criteria

We are welcoming arts and culture projects wishing to use vacant space in Wellington city. Projects may be of any duration as long as they have strong public impact and need not be temporary. We are looking to the long-term in assisting change in the city.

New deadlines apply for those interested. For projects in August and September we are calling for applications now. After this they are coming up as follows:

10 September, 10 December and 10 February

Note that the next Wellington City Council Arts and Culture fund deadlines are: 27 October, and 22 March.

We are looking for projects that:

Engage people in Wellington City: Projects should be dynamic and open to the public, accessible and visible. They should increase a sense of community in the city and interact with the public in new ways. Think about how can you involve people.

Provide the unique and innovative: We are not interested in turning the city into another copy of itself, or one type of space or gallery. Think about how your project might operate differently to what is already in existence. 

Being professional and having a clear idea: Demonstrate you are ready to look after a space responsibly. Looking after a space open to the public develops professional skills and business practice, but we need to have confidence you are ready. 

Pay attention to context: Projects should demonstrate an awareness of Wellington City’s current usages, issues and history. Think about where it might best be located and interaction with its neighbourhood and existing uses.

Representation: We wish to increase the visibility of mana whenua in the city and the connection between the city and the history of the land it is placed on. We're also committed to ensuring the city better reflects the diversity of its people. Consider how your project represents these elements.

Existing Relocating Projects: Projects that involve relocating from an existing rented space in Wellington city are not eligible. We do not want to undermine existing businesses and tenancies. We prioritise new projects and initiatives. 

Student work that is under assessment is not eligible for the UDB unless previously arranged with the academic institution.

How it works

Urban Dream Brokerage helps find a space for approved projects and negotiates its use, organises a license (see below) and covers public liability insurance. 

The Application Process

  1. Criteria: Individuals or organisations first must be satisfied they meet the criteria for application.
  2. Submission: Applicants fill out a submission form available to enter online here. Applicants can contact broker Helen Kirlew Smith at urbandreambrokerage@gmail.com or phone 027 378 7432. 
  3. Assessment: The applications are assessed by the UBD advisory panel. The proposal must meet with their majority approval as to matching the criteria, and they may provide advice on its best implementation. UBD then meet with applicants to vet their application and discuss potential spaces.
  4. Location: UDB proceeds to locate property options and commence negotiations. Applicants are also encouraged to identify spaces they think are suitable (in some instances they will actually negotiate the use of space themselves). If we think a project is suitable for a space that is available we meet with the applicant and assess the project in more detail.
  5. Licensing: Once located UDB issues the licenses and arranges for public liability insurance cover (a key part of the brokerage's services to applicants) and assists applicants to obtain power and other utilities (we can help with set-up but the cost of power and utilities is at the licensee's cost).
  6. Monitoring: The agency then monitors the progress, and reports back to both property owners and partners at the end of the license. We will also feature applicants' projects on our website, through our newsletter to our database and through social media. Projects that aren't temporary should plan on operating on a rolling 30 day period of use.


Licenses for properties are negotiated on a rent-free basis, either for a prescribed period of a few weeks or months, or on a rolling license that gives either a party the ability to give the other 30 days notice. Licensees pay a small weekly fee of $10 to UDB to help with the coverage of insurance and breakages. The temporary license (developed in partnership with major property owners)  provides that the licensee:                         

  • covers the cost of power and utilities,
  • obtains through UBD public liability insurance,
  • And takes the property on a "as is where is basis".

Property managers or owners interested in having their property listed with UBD should contact us and we will be in touch to discuss further the options for your building.


The UDB provides to both occupiers and property owners:
-brokerage of a temporary license
-photography and documentation of the project
-Public Liability Insurance for the building site up to $5 000 000
-Cover for minor damage up to $400

We ask applicants to pay what they can afford in terms of a contributory fee: $20 per week/ $50 per week/ orif they represent a small business or not for profit $100 per week.

Licensees will also be liable for power and other utilities - we are able to offer assistance in getting the best deals we can on these for you.

All agreements have reviews built into them. If a licensee starts a business that ends up turning over good money we’d gradually expect them to start paying closer to a commercial rent to the property owners when they can afford to. This is something we'd assist in the negotiation of. With ongoing projects, our aim is to nurture them so they eventually don’t need support.