Alexandra Lawson Gallery (ALG) has partnered with Waltons Stores to be the first to take advantage of Toowoomba Regional Council’s (TRC) pilot program that aims to transform vacant spaces into vibrant businesses.
TRC Planning and Development Committee Chair Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan said the Queensland-first Creative CBD Toowoomba trial is an innovative program run by Council supported by Renew Australia, a not-for-profit social enterprise.
“It was exciting to see the first CBD tenancy filled by an emerging business as part of the trial,” Cr O’Hara Sullivan said.
“The Creative CBD Toowoomba program was designed to help local communities enliven and energise main streets and central business districts by reviving vacant or under-used spaces as creative hubs.
“Council is committed to supporting the growth of the Toowoomba CBD, and this program promotes business renewal through the tenancy of creative industries.
“Eligible business tenants must complement, not compete with surrounding businesses. New programs are developed with relevant neighbours and are customised to suit the needs of property owners and prospective tenants.
“The trial opens opportunities for landowners or property agents to increase the visibility of vacant properties to potential commercial tenants or purchasers while an emerging business occupies it.”
Toowoomba Regional Council is an affiliate member of Renew Australia, which provides advice and resources to transform vacant spaces into vibrant businesses.
The trial will run until June 2021 and will be evaluated on its effectiveness to support local emerging business, reduce CBD vacancy rates and activate the city centre.
TRC Planning and Development Committee Portfolio Leader Cr Bill Cahill said the Creative CBD Toowoomba program is a Council and Renew Australia initiative to help emerging creative businesses access vacant commercial spaces in our CBD.
“Renew defines creative businesses as enterprises that create and sell their intellectual property or wares,” Cr Cahill said.
“Renew projects could be led by the community, corporate or government organisations and were tailored to suit available funding.
“Introducing lively, new enterprises keeps foot traffic in the business areas, provides employment and aids overall business confidence.
“New enterprises are attracted by the opportunity to dip a toe in the water without needing significant upfront funds or the uncertainty of signing up to long-term commitments.
“Many of these creative outlets also add to an area’s tourism appeal.
“Our first tenant, ALG, is a Toowoomba-based gallery dedicated, owned and operated by Alexandra Lawson that supports local artists through sharing their work and providing artist studio spaces.
“The exhibition titled ‘Satellites, brings together a group of artists who work independently, yet are held together in an ‘orbit’ of sorts.
“Toowoomba has a wealth of people involved in creative pursuits, and I’m positive the trial will see enterprising residents turning good ideas into prospective business opportunities.”
Residents or property owners who are interested in participating in the trial are encouraged to complete an Expression of Interest form by visiting, www.tr.qld.gov.au/creativeCBD
Caption: Barry O’Sullivan (Newlands), Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan, Mayor Paul Antonio, Dr Alexandra Lawson admire the ALG Gallery, an initiative of the Creative CBD Toowoomba Program.