In April 2008, the Grenda Bus Company relocated from its historic home of 62 years. To mark this moment of change, City of Greater Dandenong coordinated an arts installation project at the bus depot involving seven artists in the two week gap between decommission and demolition. Using only materials from the site, the evocative interventions crystalised the legacy left behind.

An entire year of planning preceded the two weeks for which the depot was occupied. The site was managed as a work-site, with thorough adherence to OH&S guidelines. Council had a major role in facilitating all of this, offering the artists considerable support without which such a project would be impossible.

Over the week of public exhibition, approximately 1000 people came to see the project, which ultimately created an opportunity for the community as well as present and former Grenda staff to experience, relive and honour a celebrated workspace.

 


“Depot is about seeing the value in everyday working spaces and the items left behind; their ability to be arranged, transformed and built upon, into spaces and objects of reflection, inspiration and final contemplation.” Jenny Pemberton-Webb, Place Manager, Revitalising Central Dandenong

How was the space first identified and who was contacted to secure it?

The Grenda Bus Depot was purchased to free up land that would enable the construction of a new bridge into central Dandenong. The City of Greater Dandenong undertook to document the Grenda’s site because of its status as an iconic local company. In doing so council identified an opportunity for a unique pre demolition, arts intervention. The Place Manager put forward a project proposal in 2007 to Grenda’s and Vic Urban seeking support and funding.

What was required to secure the space?

The first point of negotiation was around creating a ‘window of opportunity’ in the construction schedule between the Grenda Bus Company moving out of their site and the site being demolished. Once this was secured and funding agreed, the project scope was progressively refined. A site visit for the selected artists was facilitated with Grenda staff to enable information about the site to be relayed. A Contamination Report assisted in determining areas within the Depot that could be utilized. An agreement was established between Grenda’s and the City of Greater Dandenong outlining the conditions for surrendering the site for 14 days.

What needed to be provided by you as hirer or user of the space?

An agreed project concept and detailed plan for implementation. Fire services, cleaning, security, electricians and tradesman expertise, public liability insurance, safety plans, JSA’s for each artist’s installation, site manager, building surveyors, engineering advice.

What were the costs?

The project was funded by the City of Greater Dandenong, Grenda’s and Vic Urban. The budget included artists fees, accommodation, catalogue, blog site, technical/trade support, graphic design, advertising, documentation, materials, safety equipment, insurances and Red Card training. There were a number of additional costs incurred along the way and once possession of the site occurred. Added costs included structural engineers, OCHS advice, additional equipment hire, electricians, maintenance staff, cleaning, fire extinguishers and staffing costs.

What were the resources available to you?

The support of the City of Greater Dandenong and various council officers and departments who assisted with everything from developing media kits to advising on OCHS and providing building surveyor support.The site had power, water, basic security systems.The ABC documented the entire process and this resulted in a national screening of the project on the Sunday Arts Program.

Who helped you to fit it out?

The artists’ installations were the focus for the project. All efforts were centred on the artists being assisted to realise their work. Attention was also given to the spaces in between the installations being left for contemplation and reflection. The other key activity involved cleaning and rubbish removal in preparation for the public opening period.

What were/are the obstacles?

It was challenging to communicate the nature of the experience the project would offer through the media and promotional material. The scale of the site and the number of hazardous areas it incorporated presented many OHS issues and additional tasks to prepare the site for public access.

What were/are the risks?

Ensuring the safety of everyone involved and of those who came to the site.Creating an environment where the artists were as free as possible to undertake cutting edge work and respond to the site.Undertaking an arts project that was about working with the fabric of the building, intervening its spaces and functions and working with what items were left behind.