Renew Newcastle is one of those ideas that hits you in the face like a wet fish; you didn’t see it coming and now you’re suddenly quite alert. It’s the simplicity of the idea that is so striking; if your city is full of empty spaces then fill those spaces with art. Creating Cities takes us through the formation of an idea that rallied against the assumption that city planning was a top-down process, and showed that community and a bit of unconventional thinking could achieve what years of strategic planning could not.
In the early 2000s, the once-industrial city of Newcastle was facing high unemployment and streets of empty storefronts. Through a quirk of property valuation, it was better for owners to keep storefronts empty than to rent below market rate. The presumed solution to Newcastle’s revitalization was to invest and develop in large-scale projects. But somehow, they never seemed to get approved. And that’s when a small group of arts managers became restless. Continue reading