One Small Room is a rehearsal, exhibition and performance space dedicated to the development, support and presentation of new productions, by local and interstate artists. The space is housed within a hundred year old barn conversion nestled down an un-named blue stone alley.

“I want the venue to appear to be new everytime people walk in, so from week to week, there will be changes, in the lay out, flowers arrangements, lighting and design. Nothing in life ever stays the same, so why shouldOne Small Roombe different?” Jessi Lewis

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

The space was advertised in a glass box outside the Brunswick Hotel on Sydney Rd, the landlord was contacted the same afternoon. A month later the space was secured for a 5 year period with an option to extend. The lease terms for the space are unusual in the sense that there is no agent, so all business is handled through the land lord directly. 

What was required to secure the space?

A bond and one month rent where required to secure the space. A business plan which outlined short, medium and long term outlooks was also requested. The next step was to secure an amendment to the existing planning permit for an artist’s studio and residence to also include a public point of assembly, which was achieved through a number of meetings with Moreland City Council.

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

In addition to amending the planning permit we also had to secure a limited licence for the sale and consumption of alcohol on site. Building work on the site was completed within the month-long negotiations prior to moving into the space, these included the building of walls to create two small bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom.

Since moving into the space, a lot of work has been done on the cosmetic fit out of the space, including the installation of theatre lights, stage curtains, a bar for drinks service and decorating the foyer/exhibition area.

What were the costs?

Advance rent, bond, permit, liquor license, public liability insurance and marketing the new space came to around $7,000.

What were the resources available to you?

Networks that had been established through past work and involvement with projects around Melbourne, through these networks we were able to secure the loan of sound systems, lighting, seats etc, for the first few events. Having a strong connection with other artists and companies proved to be invaluable.

Who helped you to fit it out?

Over approx four months I dedicated a lot of my time to the fit out of the space. Leon from Studio 246 was a great help, being a similar venue within 150 metres, we met through the City of Moreland, and a tour they conducted of spaces in the local area.

What were/are the obstacles?

Having initially started as a partnership, One Small Room had to recommence business as a sole trader after the second partner withdrew from the project. This created financial and workload challenges, especially with the deadline of the scheduled open date, but ultimately it was established networks that made everything possible. Operating the venue with half the resources and finances initially planned for is proving a challenge, it means having to redevelop the initial business plan.

What were/are the risks?

The risks are similar to those associated with setting up any new business/venture. They centre on the sustainability and viability of the business in the short, medium and long term. Generating enough income from the space so that it supports itself over time.

Entering into a lease without knowing if the amendment to the existing permit would be approved by council was another key risk.