As Melbourne’s laneways get a makeover, much-needed opportunities come to local creatives

As Melbourne’s laneways get a makeover, much-needed opportunities come to local creatives

Image courtesy of Ogilvy Australia and Vandal
Words By Charisa Bossinakis 

More than 150 jobs are on offer as part of The Creative Laneways project.

The Victorian government is backing an unprecedented revitalisation of Melbourne’s historic laneways through The Creative Laneways project.

The six-month project is set to receive $7.5 million worth of funding from the Victorian government and $1.4 million from the City of Melbourne, to support the transformation of 40 laneways located in the CBD, North Melbourne and Carlton areas.

As Melbourne edges closer towards normality, the project will elevate many outdoor spaces displaying visuals and acoustic designs, while showcasing some of the city’s previously hidden and lesser-known laneways.

North Melbourne’s Raglan Street, Little Errol Street and Bakery Lane will join the avenues of Kelvin Place, Beard Place and Canada Lane in Carlton as just some of the areas that will be reimagined as part of The Creative Laneways project.

Confirmation for the Melbourne’s biggest laneway glow up comes after the state government’s announcement to provide a $100 million fund for CBD cafes, restaurants and bars, to help businesses operate outside as restrictions ease.

As there’s a big push to increase outdoor dining to speed up Melbourne’s COVID-19 recovery, Creative Laneways is committed to renovating outdoor destinations, helping with the décor of hospitality businesses that will be transforming their space to offer alfresco seating.

Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp says the makeover will not only spruce up the streets of Melbourne, but it’ll also help lure people back into the city, boosting the economy post lockdown.

“Melbourne’s laneway culture is internationally-renowned and a major asset for our city – this project will create jobs now, support our local businesses and traders and help attract more people into the city in the future,” she said when the project was launched.

Kicking off the major art project will be a lighting installation designed by ad agency Ogilvy Australia and Sydney art studio Vandal that will take over Westwood Place in the CBD, helping to improve amenities and increase foot traffic in the area.

This comes as part of an employment push that will see over 150 people become employed through the Working for Victoria initiative. Creatives specialising in areas such as lighting design, music production and visual art will get a tap on the shoulder for the project.

The work of creatives is often transient in nature – such professionals will jump from one gig to the next, never working with the one employer for any long stretch of time. As such, many of these employees were not eligible for JobKeeper.

Speaking with emerging Melbourne singer-songwriter Thea FitzGerald, she welcomes the city’s new facelift as it will provide work for established and emerging creatives at a time when they need it most. It will also provide them validation – throughout COVID-19, the art of creatives has been called on time and time again to pull the rest of us through.

Whether it be The Wholesome Hour comedy collective behind the Brunswick East Entertainment Festival or artists performing free livestream shows, creatives have always been there to provide a sanctuary for the rest of us.

“I think there is no doubt that the creative industries have been one of the key things getting the rest of the community through this tough time and it’s time we recognised and rewarded that,” she said.

Though she worries about the future of the arts, FitzGerald hopes these difficult times will birth artistic innovation and reiterates that it’s creatives who will be called upon once again to lift the city’s spirits as we approach normality.

“While scared for the industry, it’s absolutely incredible to see how creatives have adapted to new forms of art over this period and the future looks so diverse,” she said.

“I think it’s also opened the eyes of the community how lucky we are to be able to enjoy live events in normal times and that we should be attending all the live entertainment we can.”

If you’re a creative and itching to be a part of The Creative Laneways project, apply now through Working for Victoria.

For more on the Creative Laneways project, head here.

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