Local activation initiative works for everyone

High St Northcote stands out as a destination for funky, eclectic stores. To keep that momentum going in spite of long term vacancies on the strip, Darebin City Council had a plan.

Active Spaces in Darebin, an initiative run by council, reinvigorates shop fronts by turning them into art displays or pop-up shops.  The program began with four previously long-term vacant shops, which have already displayed art created by 30 local artists and designers.

Offshoot launch Dec 2012 021A collective of three designers, known as Offshoot, occupied the first pop up shop in the Active Spaces program. Located at 217 High Street Northcote, Offshoot sold a range of dresses, shirts and skirts, all handmade in Darebin.

The property that Offshoot occupied has now successfully found a long-term tenant in local business The Friendship Tree.

“Pop up shops placed by Council within these vacant tenancies reveal the retail spaces as the active, vibrant places they are intended to be – it helps gives potential tenants a true indication of what is possible within the spaces,” said Darebin Mayor, Cr Tim Laurence.

Martin Camilleri, owner of 217 High Street which housed Offshoot, explained why he’s came on board, “It’s a win/win situation – the pop up shop offers an opportunity to establish and test a new business initiative while showcasing the property for potential long-term lease arrangements.”

Warren Lane, one of the first artists to be involved in the Active Spaces program, recently won the 2013 Bald Archy prize for his controversial portrait of Gina Rinehart.

Sixteen further pop up small arts businesses are on Council’s waiting list for a suitable retail space in Darebin, including a photographic exhibition from the Wilderness Society, entitled The Power and the Passion.

Council is currently in talks with a number of real estate agents and property owners to secure further sites appropriate for the Active Spaces program.

We are watching with interest as this exciting initiative continues to grow, and offer opportunities for building owners, artists, aspiring businesses and consumers.


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