Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley has announced $800,000 for Abbotsford Convent and Collingwood Yards so they can to provide rent relief to tenants, implement necessary public health measures and welcome back visitors when safe to do so.
Some $500,000 will go to the Abbotsford Convent Foundation, the not-for-profit organisation that manages the convent precinct. The hub is home to 126 studio spaces, 20 event venues, two public galleries, a school, radio station, four cafes and gardens.
“These Collingwood sites bring together hundreds of independent creative workers and businesses, and this support will help them survive and come back strong post pandemic,” said Minister Foley.
“With the shutdown, creative activity has ground to a halt. These supports are part of our work to ensure the future of Victoria’s creative community and thousands of creative jobs, and secure the future of these sites as creative and cultural opportunities.”
As well as providing a home for more than 150 creative businesses, Abbotsford Convent in pre-pandemic times hosted more than 4,000 events and welcomed a million visitors each year. With restrictions on events and gatherings, vital revenue sources for the foundation have dried up.
Despite this, the foundation has been working with its creative tenant community to provide rent relief and the grant will help the foundation to remain sustainable as it continues to offer this assistance. The funding will also support the foundation as it implements public health measures to support everyone who works within or visits the site.
Further up Johnston Street, $300,000 has been provided to Contemporary Arts Precincts, the not-for-profit organisation behind Collingwood Yards – a new creative precinct on the site of the old Collingwood Tech School.
Originally slated to open in May, the first tenants started to move to the site earlier this year while final building works were completed. While construction was able to continue, further tenants, ranging from creative organisations to retail and hospitality businesses, were forced to delay or defer moving.
Contemporary Arts Precincts will use the grant to provide rent relief to Collingwood Yards tenants and to put public health measures in place so it can open to the public once restrictions are eased.
“This is an important lifeline for two creative precincts at the heart of our community,” said Member for Richmond, Richard Wynne. “This vital funding will benefit hundreds of local businesses and ensure that when restrictions ease, these historic sites will buzz with creative activity again.”
Image: Abbotsford Convent – photo by Anne Moffat