"Alaska sees the isolated location of its inaugural project Car Park as positive, an inverted shop front, a cold and distant outpost that visitors need to search for, to discover".
Alaska Projects is an Artist Run Initiative developed to create opportunities for emerging artists to show their work by activating disused or under utilised space and converting it to functional exhibition space.
Our first project, Car Park, saw Alaska take over an abandoned mechanics office. Since opening in August 2011, we have held 8 shows featuring the work of over 40+ artists and have welcomed over 5,000 visitors.
Central to Alaska’s ethos is the provision of space for free to artists. In doing this it is hoped that we provide a project space where artists have accessible opportunities to present interesting and diverse work.
How was the space first identified and who was contacted to secure it?
We used to park our car in the car park and got obsessed with this bizarre little space. We kept thinking about it and one day made a phone call to the City of Sydney (who owned the car park) and got the ball rolling.
What was required to secure the space?
A detailed proposal and risk assessment. The City of Sydney really wanted to see that we had thought about the space and any potential impact.
What needed to be provided by you as hirer or user of the space?
Essentially just a really long proposal with bios of all the artists, images of their work and a lot of consideration on how the project would benefit the community.
What were the costs?
The costs were all physical, tools, paint materials. There were some additional costs around the website.
What were the resources available to you?
We kind of called in every favour we could. We got wood from building sites that were throwing it out, we hustled deals on paint and tools. We got equipment from museums and art spaces that were throwing it out. Basically we just asked and it was incredible how much support we got.
Who helped you to fit it out?
We did it ourselves using a friend who was a builder. The build consisted of a wooden wall so was fairly achievable.
What were/are the obstacles?
As part of our submission to council we worked together with the City to put in a D.A. (Development Application).
The City of Sydney were very helpful and it was great to have their assistance as the D.A. process can be daunting. The whole submission came in at around 60 pages so was very extensive.
We had a section in our proposal that dealt with access. Thankfully our space had flat access and that made compliance easier.
In all our dealings we asked lots of questions and asked for lots of help. That strategy always paid off. People in general were more than willing to help. I think that was because we had a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve and had a clear and well thought through plan in place.
Besides the proposal, which took a long time, it was mostly just programming, getting the artists sorted for the first few shows. Things like getting a beer sponsor and spreading the word.
What were/are the risks?
The big risk was that no one would ever come down to a cold car park to look at art. We really had no idea if it would work.