The Rocks Reclaiming Creativity With Pop Ups
The Rocks Pop Up making use of empty spacesThe Rocks is a historical part of Sydney, holding treasured memories of the past with cobbled pavements and buildings over 100 years old. Today, it's reclaiming it's reputation as an artistic and vibrant area complete with places to eat, unique shops and boutiques, museums, galleries, art and design markets and now it's own Pop Up project.

With such a bright atmosphere, isn't it right to bring life back into the empty heritage buildings too? 

The Rocks Pop Up Project was recently launched, making active use of unused buildings. Supported by Arts NSW, it is the setting for upcoming artists, designers, writers and poets to take up temporary residence in four heritage buildings on George Street. This golden opportunity allows them to showcase their creative pieces, experiment with their designs, grow as business owner-operators and sell their work.

While The Rocks Pop Up project is part of a solidly growing movement to bring creative endeavours and entrepreneurs back in to the hearts of cities, it's also a first with the State government agency Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority providing government owner heritage buildings as the venues and supporting the business incubator initiative.

Being able to have a gallery-like space or a small store of your own is expensive and while it's every aspiring artist and designer's dream, they're not financially able to do that straight away, especially if you have a family to support.

But with temporary residence at a low rent, they can afford to take the financial risk while still being able to afford to support their work and themselves. So this six month project gives them their big break to connect with their audience, locals and tourists; and all in a traditionally creative precinct

The heritage buildings being used for the Pop Up Project are available for expressions of interest from further tenants and the active creative community calling them home for the next few months give future tenants the opportunity to see the space being activated and humming with possibility, instead of empty shells struggling to share their potential.

Online competitions with She InspiresLisa Andersen is the Manager of The Empty Spaces Project and she spoke enthusiastically at the project's launch. She believes that projects like The Rocks Pop Up Project are only unsuccessful when "local authorities are indifferent and planners didn't enable local activity." But with support of the Arts NSW this project looks like it has a bright future ahead.

Pop Ups are known to bring a community together and bring back spirit and hope. And Renew Newcastle did just that. Newcastle's main street was once filled with "for lease" signs and the area was becoming angry, mistreated and vandalized; but not any more.

Renew Newcastle finds short term use for vacant spaces in city by finding artists, designers, cultural projects and community groups to make use of the space and maintain them.

They look for innovative unique projects and hope to have a wide variety of creative ideas for the area. This project has proven to build back a community, bring back the shoppers and locals and bring back the heart and spirit of Newcastle.

By providing support, space and opportunity for creative designers, artisans, writers and entrepreneurs, government agencies are finding a low cost and low risk method for revitalizing specific areas while achieving their community goals of inclusion and opportunity.

More to explore:

Check out for Renew Newcastle's list of pop ups! From art and fashion to crafts and homewares, there's something to suit everyone.

Go to The Rocks Pop Up Project website, for more up to date news.

Gosford City is also revitalizing it's empty spaces and is seeking interest from local artists and creative minds - more at

Want to learn more about The Empty Spaces Project? Visit

About Si Pui Tuong

About Si Pui Tuong

Si Pui Tuong has a passion for fashion, photography, design and a natural flare for writing. 

London based Si is doing her media and design international internship with She Inspires before taking time to explore northern Australia.



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