The developer's perspective: Lisa McCutchion, Frasers Property

Lisa McCutchion, Group Marketing Manager at Frasers Property, explains their partnership with Queen Street Studio and reflects on the experience as a template for future community partnerships.

FraserStudios is Frasers Property Australia's first foray into arts sponsorship. 

Space is Frasers' business, so it seemed logical that space would be Frasers' gift to the Chippendale arts community. 

Queen Street Studio, a Chippendale-based community arts organisation, works at the coal face of the independent arts community and grapples with the scarcity of space - for rehearsal, for project development, for art-making - every day. 

FraserStudios was a temporary - or 'meanwhile' - activation of warehouses that would otherwise sit vacant for several years, awaiting restoration as part of a property development called 'Central Park'. 

Frasers provided the space, seed capital and a contribution to the running costs for for FraserStudios, while Queen Street Studio contributed management and curatorial expertise, community networks and their own operational funding. 

Once Frasers bought the old Carlton United Brewery site in Chippendale we suddenly owned an entire street of houses and warehouses, all vacant. We knew from our community consultations that the arts were valued here yet space for art-making was being lost to development, so we decided to create a temporary arts space. 

Initially, we thought it was just a matter of finding some artists to fill the space, but quickly realised that a 'property management' model wouldn't create the kind of street-level activation and community engagement we imagined. We needed an arts partner, so the City of Sydney's Kiersten Fishburn gave us a list of local arts collectives to have a chat to, including Queen Street Studio.

The biggest thing we had to learn was that space is easy to give away but is expensive to run. 

When Frasers first imagined this project, we thought our gift of space was wonderfully benevolent. In our first meeting, Queen Street Board Member, Michelle Kotevski, pragmatically told us that space without money to run it is a liability, and a lost opportunity. Artists don't live on air and imagination, and space needs to be managed to be effective. 

Frasers offered $10,000 annually to kick off the project, and further funding was received from Arts NSW, the City of Sydney and Queen Street's own resources.