Collingwood Housing Estate
“The sheer scale of the space, as well as a certain sub-cultural vibe, makes the underground car park a challenging and unique space for creative work. We regularly receive expressions of interest.”
In 2001, CHEAC (the Collingwood Housing Estate Action Committee) was formed. It included estate and private residents, members of Collingwood Neighbourhood House and local arts community representatives. Their attention soon focused on a large disused underground parking lot on the Collingwood public housing estate. Spurred by its potential as a multipurpose community and arts venue, negotiations began with the Office of Housing to secure access and funding. CHEAC organised the renovation and reopening of the space and continue to oversee its use as an art gallery, theatre, meeting place, music venue, recording studio and community event space.
In addition to various local uses, many people visit for events associated with the Fringe Festival, NMIT, VCA and RMIT, enlivening and integrating this part of the estate with the broader community.
How was the space first identified and who was contacted to secure it?
CHEAC (Collingwood Housing Estate Action Committee) first identified the potential of the underground space as an arts and multipurpose venue. The Office of Housing Collingwood was the first to be contacted (they are the landlords). The City of Yarra brokered the funding and relationships to set up the space.
What was required to secure the space?
At first it was an informal agreement between CHEAC, Collingwood Neighbourhood House and the Office of Housing. Since then, the agreement has been tweaked so that CHEAC/Collingwood Neighbourhood House is the first point of administrative contact for the space.
What needed to be provided by you as hirer or user of the space?
Toilet facilities, Security, Regular staff/volunteers, Building maintenance, Administration, Publicity, Public Liability Insurance, Liquor licenses (where appropriate), Risk Assessment Plan.
What were the costs?
Initial costs: Gallery lights, Building repairs, Paint for walls, Locks and keys for lock-up studio spaces, Mural by BEEM artists group, Purchase of chairs, tables and easels
Ongoing costs: Cleaning, Utilities, Heater hire, Toilet hire, Administration and Workshop costs
What were the resources available to you?
Space, Power and Water.
Who helped you to fit it out?
The City of Yarra, various community organisations, local community, TAFEs, Universities and the Office of Housing.
What were/are the obstacles?
Massive space, difficult to maintain on a regular basis. Funding (or lack thereof) – for cleaning, programs, community initiatives and infrastructure.
What were/are the risks?
Not enough support with maintenance and funding.