Buy the book now!

Want to know more about the how, what and why of Renew Newcastle and Renew Australia?

Over the last 2 years Marcus Westbury has been working on a crowdfunded book that tells the story of the Renew idea from the very beginning.

According to Matthew Westwood in The Australian newspaper:

Creating Cities, about Renew Newcastle and the lessons learned. It’s part memoir, part how-to guide, and is very readable. It starts with Westbury’s frustration, on returning to his home town after several years away, at seeing the vacant shopfronts in the city centre, his desire to do something with those empty spaces and the obstacles — legal, regulatory, bureaucratic, economic — that stood in his way.

It’s astonishing to read that when Westbury contacted commercial real estate agents about their vacant properties, no one returned his emails or phone calls. Even a former mayor tried to discourage him, denying that Newcastle even had a problem with empty buildings.

He writes very persuasively about the over-regulation of public spaces, and what seems to be a determination on the part of civic authorities to squander the goodwill and enthusiasm of imaginative, dedicated people.

“What grips me is how places enable or thwart people with initiative,” he writes with the authority of someone who has fought such battles himself.

Creating Cities was made possible as the result of a record breaking Australian crowd funding campaign. If you weren’t one of the supporters you can now order your copy of Creating Cities direct from the Creating Cities web site.

It’s engaging, illuminating, inspiring and a great read!


Renew Sydney is seeking new project proposals!

We have new spaces becoming available that need people with the ability to be open at least six days per week, have more than one person involved and have an exciting activation plan!

EOI Open for Applicants

When Renew Leichhardt first began we captured the details of many interested artists and entrepreneurs that has formed our potential participant list that we are still using when properties become available. Over a year later, we are coming to a point where some of the applicants are no longer available, their ideas and their availability has changed or they can only be available on a part time basis. As we are starting to open up spaces that are in high visibility locations and we require genuinely active businesses and projects that can be open for at least six days a week.

Ideally we are seeking an active business or project that goes above and beyond just selling their products or service that can bring people in through their teachings, exhibitions, studios, workshops, or impromptu events.  We are looking for people who know their stuff and are ready to jump in and be part of the program.

Does that sound like you or someone you know? The EOI has now closed. More opportunities will be posted here as they become available.



Renew Eurobodalla tenants ready to move into their new premises in Moruya’s Courthouse Arcade. Councillor Rob Pollock and Mayor Lindsay Brown with Arcade Studio-3 designers Katy Goddard and Chris McInerney and owner of Rethread the Earth, Zowie Ratugolea with daughter Kelereyani.

Eurobodalla Shire Council is pleased to announce the first businesses that have found new homes as part of their Renew Eurobodalla project.

A new business hub will operate in Batemans Bay, while Moruya’s Courthouse Arcade will host a bag designer who uses reclaimed materials, as well as an art and design studio that will be shared by three creative businesses.

Mayor Lindsay Brown says he is delighted to see the first Renew Eurobodalla businesses finding homes before Christmas. ‘With support from property owners who have made empty shops available for the project, these business owners can trial their new locations to see if they are ready to sign a commercial lease,’ said Cr Brown.

‘This is a big step in the Renew project. It’s been great to see local property owners supporting this initiative, and I hope that the community will also offer their support to these businesses by visiting them.’

Rethread the Earth will produce bags made from up-cycled fabrics and vintage fashion and Arcade Studio-3 will be used as a working space for an artist, a designer and an architect.

The Business Hub Australia will offer resources for businesses including support and training in social media marketing, administration and technical services, as well as a private meeting room and casual work stations with internet connections. The hub will host an open day on Wednesday 17 December upstairs at Annette’s Arcade, Batemans Bay where you can find out what the hub can do for your business.


Retail and office spaces are still available through Renew Eurobodalla. If you would like more information about the project and how you can move your creative business into retail or office space, contact Sarah Cooper on 02 4474 1271 or [email protected].  

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It’s official – Renew Cooma has launched and ready for business. Marcus visited Cooma last Wednesday to celebrate the launch of their project and see firsthand the spaces which have been transformed.

Renew Cooma became an affiliate of Renew Australia in August and in three short months they have already secured five spaces and activated them with local artists and designers.

Through the Cooma Chamber of Commerce and spearheaded by Suzanne Dunning, shops which had previously sat empty are now bringing life back to Vale and Sharp Street, while giving locals the opportunity to test their ideas in a retail setting.

Congratulations to all in Renew Cooma! We can’t wait to hear more news!


The Front is a unique art space dedicated to large scale art installation in the front space, and participatory and collaborative ideas in the back space.


What have been some of the best things about having a space to test your idea?

Putting large-scale art installation in a big window so that people passing by can see it day and night.

Getting positive feedback from passers-by and the other tenants.

Exposure to a different art audience for the artists

Bringing a diverse group of people down to Docklands.

Being rewarded by seeing it work. And then being able to let the idea evolve to include other people and ideas.

Taking some of the projects out of the space to engage with the Docklands community.

Forming a team of people and seeing them run with the project and get benefit from being part of the project.

Finding we are growing an identity that becomes seen as part of the community down here.

The challenges we have faced mean we are growing skills.

Giving back to the community.

While participating in the Renew program, what have been some of the discoveries you’ve made in your area?

The best Vietnamese food is on Rakia Way. REAL Vietnamese food at such bargain prices.

If you’re really broke go to the IGA and browse their bainmarie. A quiche for $2.95, a muffin for $1.80 and fruit for 50 cents.

Gloria Jeans has the friendliest staff.

You can get handbags and luggage at bargain prices at Harbourtown.

The best coffee is at The Foodcourt, extra friendly service by Nico.

The walk to the Bolte Bridge is great and once you get under the bridge there’s a great walk around the back to the Wheel and the dinosaur.

The water side is under appreciated and that’s a shame.

What other creative enterprises are you inspired by?

The Foodcourt and D11 are very interesting. Also, Andria at the Clothing project is inspiring. Her project training refugees is fantastic.
What is your website, store address or where else we can find you?

We don’t have a website, instead we rely upon facebook. Find us at www.facebook.com/TheFront424

The page talks about our work and our community, referencing interesting information we come across. We see it as a place to build our Docklands identity and the Docklands Spaces Project as an inclusive art precinct.

Visit The Front at 424 Docklands Drive, Docklands, Melbourne


Visit their facebook and website for more news and updates




Renew Eurobodalla have spaces to fill!

Renew Eurobodalla, an affiliate member of Renew Australia, are looking for creative enterprises to activate empty spaces in their local towns. Run by the Eurobodalla Shire Council, Renew Eurobodalla are seeking expressions of interest from artists, designers, photographers, printmakers, architects, milliners, jewellers, publishers, animators and all creative enterprises inbetween to revitalise empty spaces in the area.

Located on the south coast of NSW, this is an ideal opportunity for local or neighbouring town residents to test their creative business venture at low cost and bring life and activity to these otherwise empty spaces.

Applications are open until Friday October 10th – 4:00pm.

For more information or to complete an application visit the Renew Eurobodalla council website.


Renew Leichhardt is launching with an official Renew Leichhardt launch event run in partnership with the Leichhardt Municipal Council. It’s going to be a fantastic day for all ages, so bring the kids!

There will be roaming entertainers, face painters, market stalls, our participants will be trading and it will be a great opportunity to find out more about Renew Leichhardt, how it works and how you can become involved.

Renew Leichhardt Launch Event

The Italian Forum

21-23 Norton Street, Leichhardt

Sunday 16th March 11am – 2pm



Renew Australia is pleased to announce the launch of our new project in the Goldfields region, where we will be working in Creswick, Clunes and Talbot.  For the last few months we have been working with Hepburn Shire Council and the Central Goldfields Shire Council to develop a plan to activate some of the underutilised spaces in these towns.  We’ve met with property owners and agents, held public meetings in each town, and we’ve secured a number of properties.  Now we need you!

We’ll be launching our Empty Spaces Project website soon, but we’re calling for Expressions of Interest now.  We are seeking interesting projects to transform these spaces: artists, makers, designers, photographers, printmakers, illustrators, architects, milliners, jewellers, publishers, and many other creative types.

Properties are available from March and we aim to have the first projects up and running as soon as we can.  Expressions of Interest for the first round of projects should be submitted via the online application form on the Renew Australia website by 7 March 2014 AEDT 5.00pm. If more properties become available, there may be an additional Expression of Interest call-out.  If  you have any questions about the Empty Spaces Project, please email us: [email protected], or ring us on 9982 0785.

To find out more about Renew Australia and other successful projects, check out our website.


Do you have a creative business idea that you want to trail for the first time and need a retail space to try it out in?

Expressions of Interest are now open for Renew Melbourne’s projects, including retail spaces in the Docklands, Greensborough and Bridge Road, Richmond.

This is a low cost, rent free opportunity to create a short term retail space, that will allow you to try out your business in a main street and bring a vibrant idea to life. Not only that, you will be able to give back to the community by activating a vacant shop front and helping to make an active and interesting shopping strip.

Find out more about the Renew Melbourne Projects, and apply at http://renewmelbourne.org/