Support for arts and culture

A new centre of culture in Sydney

Dancers, musicians, film and theatre makers, digital creatives and visual artists will soon have access to a state-of-the-art production and rehearsal space.

City of Sydney Creative Studios - photo credit - Paul Patterson City of Sydney

Brand X, Sydney’s leading provider of affordable space for artists, will run the City of Sydney Creative Studios when it opens early next year.

Director James Winter tells us why our local creative community can be hopeful after a rough couple of years.

What excites you most about the City of Sydney Creative Studios?

In 2021, with interstate and international borders closed due to the pandemic, the arts industry leaned heavily on the local independent arts sector to provide work for their festival and mainstage programs. Brand X is committed to strengthening the capacity of local artists to meet this demand by offering time, space and resources to incubate new contemporary work that is uniquely Sydney.

The City of Sydney Creative Studios offer an opportunity to do this at scale, which will result in a new generation of local cultural leaders making brave and authentic work.

How will this production and rehearsal space help the creative community recover from the pandemic?

We plan to address a significant gap in the sector by connecting artists and their work to mainstream opportunities. New voices and ideas will have space to develop, stimulating the productivity of the NSW arts sector from the grassroots. It’s all about providing equitable access to resources among underrepresented groups across the state that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

We offer artists the essential foundations: support, space, time and resources. This will enable collaboration, experimentation and contribute to sector innovation.

Brand X Director James Winter. Credit: Meg Hewitt
Brand X Director James Winter. Credit: Meg Hewitt

Many artists in cities across the world must be dealing with the impact of gentrification, affordability and Covid-19. Can we learn anything from what’s happening overseas?

Due to gentrification, creative spaces in Sydney have all but diminished in the last decade, with the City of Sydney’s creative floorspace audit revealing that 117,000 sqms of cultural space disappeared between 2012 and 2017. But this story is not unique to Sydney. All major cities across the world have lost cultural space to development, which is why the work of Brand X is critical.

With over 16 years’ experience providing affordable space for independent artists, we are well positioned to deliver this resource to those who would benefit most from its use and by doing so, create the greatest cultural impact. Its location in the heart of the city centre is a very powerful statement in favour of recovery for the cultural life of Sydney post-lockdown.

How have you been getting your creative fix while in lockdown?

Although we are in lockdown, Brand X’s creative development programs continue. We’re constantly inspired by the new ideas submitted to our Flying Nun performance program and ProtoSHOP creative retail residency.

While it feels like someone has hit the pause button in Sydney, independent artists continue to produce through our programs. Which is not to suggest that the experience has been easy on artists. This lockdown has been harder in many more ways than the first. But artists need to create – and will continue to do so.

You want to focus on cultivating new voices. Why are fresh ideas important for Sydney?

Our commitment is to support new voices to enter the mainstream by supporting innovative, relevant and engaging creative work. As we emerge from lockdown, let’s re-imagine a more democratic sector, where local arts and culture truly reflect our eclectic society. We support professional artists working with contemporary culture to explore new, avant-garde ideas that push creative boundaries. We seek opportunities for this incubated work to be produced elsewhere, extending the lifecycle of artists’ work.

The Creative Studios feature:

  • 2 large double-height rehearsal spaces with sprung timber floors
  • 5 soundproof recording and rehearsal studios
  • production and editing suites
  • wet-dry creative studios
  • an artist in residence apartment with an attached creative studio
  • administration and meeting spaces.

Artists, creative practitioners and organisations can register their interest.

Published 23 September 2021

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