Turning vacant shopfronts into temporary creative spaces

The City of Melbourne is working with local artists, precinct associations and the commercial real estate industry to turn vacant shopfronts into temporary creative spaces and revitalise the city.

​The City of Melbourne conducted a survey of shopfronts in January that indicates that 13 per cent of street facing shopfronts are vacant and a further 13 per cent are closed due to COVID-19.

Twenty three vacant shopfronts across the city have been adorned with large-scale vinyl artworks by Victorian artists with a further 22 to be installed over the next two months.

These art works are being installed in areas including on Bourke Street, Elizabeth Street, Niagara Lane and Freshwater Place in Southbank.

This builds on the Uptown outdoor art exhibition that featured 26 artworks installed across business exteriors, shop windows, vacant buildings and laneways at Bourke Street’s eastern end in December 2020.

Nine precinct associations are being provided with $100,000 in funding to create shopping strip activations that encourage people back to key commercial areas.

The City of Melbourne is also working with precinct associations, businesses and the commercial real estate industry to create opportunities for start-ups, local creatives, not-for-profits and social enterprises to use temporarily vacant spaces.

The investment in retail strip and shopfront activation is part of the joint $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund in partnership with the Victorian Government.

Quotes attributable to Lord Mayor Sally Capp:

“Empty shopfronts are a visible reminder that the City of Melbourne’s economy has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We are investing in these creative programs as a short-term measure to ensure our streets remain appealing and continue to encourage people to our inner-city areas.

“Repurposing these spaces to showcase local artwork creates work for Melburnians at a time where every job counts.

“We are also working to encourage businesses to set up in recently vacated shopfronts and trying to facilitate connections between entrepreneurs and the commercial property sector.”

Quotes attributable to Councillor Roshena Campbell:

“As our city streets begin to hum with workers and shoppers once more, we want to convert our vacant shopfronts into open air art galleries,” Cr Campbell said.

“We want visitors to be greeted with a visual feast instead of empty shops, while we work to bring our city’s economy back from COVID-19.

“From Chinatown to Docklands and Lygon Street, we’re doing everything we can to support our city businesses that have been doing it so tough.  

“We know our precinct associations will play a critical role in working with local businesses to reactivate our precincts. That’s why we’ve provided additional funding so that they can create events and activations and plan for their future growth.”

Oslo Davis - Swimming Through the City - 231 Bourke Street - 1.jpg

“Swimming Through the City” by Oslo Davis

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