Structuring your initiative

Create or find a reputable structure...

No one is going to trust you with property if you can't show you are capable of managing and maintaining it, and to do so, you need to have a responsible legal entity overseeing the process. 

Renew Newcastle was established as a not-for-profit company specifically to manage temporarily empty buildings. This allowed Renew Newcastle to custom design its own structure for this purpose and it is probably the best way to go if you are planning on managing multiple spaces or setting up a city or region-wide scheme. 

The key features of the Renew Newcastle structure are that it is: 

  • A not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. It is seeking, but has not yet received, deductible gift recipient status that would allow it to take tax-deductible donations.
  • Focused on the specific brief of activating empty spaces for creative projects.
  • A non-government entity. It is not bound by the often quite constricting policies and procedures that would be required to follow managing spaces as a government-managed and run entity.
  • Respected by all the stakeholders from property owners through to the local business community and artists.
  • It is independent and not-for-profit. It does not seek to make money out of what it is doing. It is broadly independent from too much influence and from those who might benefit from its activities including both property owners and tenants.
  • It is a legal entity capable of being a party to a contract.
  • Has diverse representation on its board of people with professional skills and stakeholder connections. Examples of relevant skills include people from the arts, architects and urban planners, representatives of local business groups, accountants and lawyers and others with a genuine stake in the success of the project and skills and contacts to contribute.
  • It is seen as an honest broker and not stakeholder. This is mainly due to the fact that it is not in itself a developer, a political lobby group or a group that is seeking to take over the buildings for its own purposes. It is also due to the fact that it is making no long-term claim on the properties.
  • Not engaging with polarising issues such as debates about development or long-term plans. Individuals on the board, occupying the spaces, working for the organisation or otherwise involved are welcome to have their own opinion, but as an organisation Renew Newcastle remains neutral.

These are all good principles to keep in mind if you are thinking of establishing a structure.