By Adrian Doyle
In the 1990s Melbourne was a very different city.
It was a suburban city, with elements of the 1950s still holding influence. People would finish work and catch the train home to suburbia – like in John Brack’s Collins St 5pm.
However, in the mid 90s there was a clear shift in the way we used the city. Until then, the city was empty with hardly anybody here. This was great for artists because of an abundance of large, cheap and awesome studios. Everyone knew everyone and there was a clear cultural centre for Melbourne with thousands of artists, little crafty and unusual shops and galleries calling the CBD home.
As the first apartments went up most people thought it was weird. “Why would you live in the city?” But as the 90s came to a close, the city began a revolutionary cultural shift and our relationship and the way we use the city changed completely.
By 2002 many of the studios began to shut and by 2010 nearly all the studios were gone plus the galleries and the weird little shops were disappearing. The reason Melbourne became cool was because of the laneways, arts and secret and hidden shops. So as people have moved to this great city from interstate and overseas there has needed to be a substantial construction boom to fit them all in.
And now it’s nearly the 2020s and the spaces are nearly all gone. There are giant apartment blocks changing the landscape of the city forever.
So, I have been thinking that something needs to be done to ensure that this city can remain the cultural centre of Australia and the region.
I recently met with my friend who runs Hewett Commercial and we had a look around the city and I realised that there are many spaces that are not being used. Often they are attached to larger companies or businesses or have weird access or some other issue.
And I thought that there are so many artists and galleries that need space, and there is clearly space that is not being used so I would love to be able to facilitate these two things and help create a more creative city.
So if you know of any space in or around the CBD, no matter how weird please let me know. I want to create a “Space Bank” and get the artists back into the city.
I hope you have an awesome new year.