Empty shopfronts house local art

By Micaela Togher

New artwork is being displayed on empty shopfronts in the CBD under a City of Melbourne initiative to display works by local artists on temporarily vacant spaces.

Oslo Davis’s piece Swimming Through the City (pictured below) can now be seen at 231 Bourke St, as well as various other locations in the CBD. 

In January 2021, the City of Melbourne learned that 13 per cent of street-facing shopfronts in the municipality were vacant, with a further 13 per cent closed due to COVID-19.

Vinyl artworks by Victorian artists currently feature on 23 vacant shopfronts with an additional 22 to be installed over the next two months.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp believes the empty storefronts to be a “visible reminder” of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the economy of Melbourne. 

“We are investing in these creative programs as a short-term measure to ensure our streets remain appealing and continue to encourage people in our inner-city areas,” the Lord Mayor said.

It is hoped the initiative will encourage businesses to re-invest and revive the City of Melbourne’s economy. Artworks are being installed across a variety of locations including Bourke St, Elizabeth St and Niagara Lane in the CBD.

The City of Melbourne is also working with precinct associations, businesses and commercial real estate industries to create opportunities for start-ups, local creative and not-for-profits to make use of the temporarily vacant spaces.

Cr Roshena Campbell said the council was doing everything it could to support those businesses struggling due to the global pandemic.

“We want to convert our vacant shopfronts into open air art galleries. We want visitors to be greeted with a visual feast instead of empty shops,” Cr Campbell said.

The investment is part of the joined $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund launched in partnership with the Victorian Government •

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