Setting up a shared space

Opening nightPop Up Shop North Sydney has been a great journey for me. With the original promise of only six months occupancy, I can only be happy that I have had such a great run in a beautiful creative place. And a place that otherwise would have stood empty has now been filled for 18 months with artistic inspiration for the wider community to enjoy.

When I and seven other artist where selected by North Sydney Council to get this exciting project from the ground, we were divided into two shops, as teams of four, and set to work.

First we had to strip down each of the shops - a former video library and a pet shop. We spent weeks preparing our shops and created two great creative spaces where we could work, sell our designs and run free workshops for the community.

Opening the shopYou have to be very committed to be in the shop in the first place as it’s about you and the personal relationships you develop with your audience.  Attendance is very important. If you have certain openings hours be there!

If you are with a group make sure you have a plan and shared approach from the start. The space has to work as a shared space: not only what you alone want but what you want as a group too. But give each other a certain amount of freedom within that space. If you are too set in your way of doing things, it will not work. You are together and have to form a united front as that is the image you portray to the community.

In the first shop we had a rotating roster as that would work best for all involved. So we were rostered on different days (not the same day) every week. We would make the roster a month in advance. In the second shop we had a fixed day. In fact, I preferred the rotating roster as you learned more about what happened locally on the different days you were in the shop and learned better to target your audience. 

You also have to be committed as a front. If you do a roster make sure you catch up all together at least once a month to discuss frictions and other things, otherwise it’s easy to lose touch with each other. Also try to catch up outside of your project with each other and get to know each other. Very helpful as you understand each other better and where you come from.

Finally, make sure everyone is equally committed and not let do one person be the horse to pull the carriage!

Communal space for workshops and meetings