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About

Make/Shift Spaces is part of a global movement to re-use, re-invigorate and re-present un-used spaces in our city’s places. We revitalise Nelson’s empty retail spaces by generating opportunities for artists, creatives, community and special interest groups who can fill a space with vibrant installations and activity. We also use some of the spaces to tell stories about our community, with window displays and images.

Because all the spaces are temporary, Make/Shift Spaces is about short-term solutions with long-term effects. Make/Shift Spaces works directly with property owners and real estate agents, who are super keen to be involved in bringing life and creativity to our smart little city.

We’re not aiming to fill every empty space at once, but rather work on a progressive roll-out, and being really clever about matching the right project with the right space.

Make/Shift Spaces wants to make Nelson an incubator for new thinking, ideas and actions, and to challenge and inform what constitutes a civic environment in the 21st century.

In late 2018, Nelson City Council commissioned Anne Rush to investigate what could be done with the high number of empty retail spaces in the city centre. Even with property owners actively looking for tenants, the process often takes months or even years, with the empty spaces quickly appearing neglected and abandoned. NCC wanted Rush to explore some short-term solutions that might have long-term effects.

Anne conducted intensive research, looking at existing models in New Zealand and internationally (of which there are many). She also initiated discussions with property owners to gauge their willingness to make their spaces available on a temporary basis, rent-free. The response was positive, especially because all properties would remain on the retail market available to let at any time. Rush saw the need for a middle party, who could broker between the property owner and the temporary tenant, and so Make/Shift Spaces came to be.

If you’re a property owner who’s interested in being involved, there’s more information here - Guide for Hosts (PDF)

And if you’ve got a great idea for how to use a Make/Shift Space, there’s information here - Guide for Programme Participants (PDF)

As Make/Shift Spaces grows, so too will this website. We’ll keep adding news and updates on projects as they reveal themselves in our smart little city.

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