Creative hubs

Creative hubs

The Works Glebe: Sharing space, sharing values

Working in a shared collaborative space is fast becoming the preferred option Australia-wide for start-ups and micro businesses needing flexible working arrangements. Shared spaces have multiplied more than 500% in just 2 years, and supply is barely keeping up with demand – particularly for makers and people in creative industries. 

The City has been supporting co-working environments since 2012 when we launched our successful Creative Spaces program, while independent ventures are creating more co-working environments Sydney. One worth watching is The Works Glebe, an innovative retail/office space, set-up 2 years ago by project and event manager Kris Spann in one of inner Sydney’s most creative suburbs. 

Spann started The Works Glebe in partnership with the owner of the Court House Hotel in Newtown, David Milton.

"In the first 2 years, we’ve focused on 3 synergistic directions: building a stable, collaborative retail business; providing co-working space for creatives; and setting up a workshop event series to tie it all together," Spann says. 

"'Collaborative retail' simply means that a group of traders run a retail space and share the rent. It bridges the gap between a market stall and having your own commercial lease. Traders can complement each other's skills and share networks.

"Our co-working initiative is the logical progression for start-ups and freelancers who’ve grown out of their home base. We provide them with work space and hard core internet. We currently have 5 businesses and 15 people sharing office space on the mezzanine level, which makes it easy to collaborate on projects ... tenants can be as committed or casual as they choose," Spann says.

Office tenants range from graphic and clothing designers and entertainment producers, to large scale printers and website developers. 

Retailers include Halchemy Design, Grandma Pickles Antiques, Ned Industrial and Devine Elegance. Musicland, Park My Van, Authority Clothing, Mister Wallpaper and Guerilla Gigs are some of the office tenants.  

"In the future, we would like another 3 to 4 businesses needing around 25sqm of space each to fill studio areas on the second floor. A further 10 creatives operating in the co-working space upstairs would give us a healthy number of tenants with the potential to make some really significant achievements," Spann says.

Spann believes workshops – or “experiential retail“ – make learning entertaining and practical, as participants can walk away at the end with their own creations and a new skill set. In turn, workshop instructors not only gain from promotional opportunities but also get to share knowledge and work on honing their skills. 

"Eventually, we hope to use our second level as a venue for a regular creative weekly market, with some stall holders leaving items in the building permanently for sale.

"The Works Glebe is obviously filling local need. All we had to do was make our idea of a local collaborative space known. Glebe has a highly creative population, yet until now there was nowhere for them to meet and work, and proximity to the University of Sydney and UTS increases demand for shared working environments. It’s basically a matter of getting the right fit of people together and creating a community.

"Our aim is to develop an inspiring space where artistic talent and industrial solidarity coexist; that will become the leading creative hub in Glebe and the inner west," Spann says.

For more about The Works Glebe, contact or go to

Find out more about the City’s shared spaces below.

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Places to inspire, create and delight

A number of spaces that are owned by the City in the local area are perfect for artists and others working in the creative industries.

Putting these buildings to use, we offer a number of programs that help people and organisations find an affordable studio or workspace.

The programs we have available suit different needs. Aside from programs for affordable work space such as Oxford Street Creative Spaces and the William Street Creative Hub (currently full), we provide short-term retail and creative space tenancy opportunities which, at a reduced rate, provide spaces within City owned properties that may suddenly and temporarily become available.

We were also the first organisation in NSW to license Creative Spaces, a free directory that connects those looking for affordable studios, galleries, exhibition and other creative spaces with leasing managers running these types of properties.

Design duo Romance Was Born in their studio.

Cultural quarters

To ensure the much loved and renowned strip continues to thrive, we have been offering a range of office and retail spaces on Oxford Street to creative individuals and businesses.

We invited artists and organisations to submit an expression of interest to occupy underutilised properties and were overwhelmed with the response. There are now 18 office and retail spaces and the transformation has been swift. Designers, architects, contemporary performers, animators, online video producers, architects, artists, their staff and customers are breathing new life into the precinct.

We’re also working to foster a creative community in our William Street properties. The area is already home to a range of emerging and established creative tenants, including renowned fashion label Romance Was Born and global co-working organisation Hub Sydney, as well as the City’s first Creative Live Work Space program for artists. 

Creative Spaces

Creative Spaces is a free website that matches property owners with creatives looking for a space.

The site helps artists and creative enterprises find a suitable venue or studio to develop, exhibit or perform their work and provides a platform for agents and owners to advertise their properties and find tenants.

On the site you will find artist and photography studios, gallery and exhibition spaces, co-working areas and hot desks, rehearsal and performance rooms, pop-up shops, rooftops, cinemas, theatres and other non-traditional properties.

You can also list your unused properties on the site.

It’s free to join and you can search by area, or type of space and read all about how creative spaces around the local area have been used by others.

Visit Creative Spaces

Skater on an indoor half pipe in a Oxford Street affordable space.
Oxford Street short term creative tenant, Maaike.

Short term creative tenancies

Offering vacant properties to creative enterprises not only breathes new life into empty spaces, it also helps to address the challenges of finding affordable, inner-city spaces for cultural workers.

Following a call-out to anyone with a unique, innovative idea, we selected 25 projects to be placed on a short term retail and creative space register so that when an appropriate space became available, the projects could be called on to make use of the property from 1 to 12 months.

Brand X has come on board to help us find new and creative businesses to continue to fill empty City-owned spaces and provide affordable options for creatives.

People working in cultural spheres are invited to submit ideas for projects for consideration, with successful applicants being matched to properties by Brand X. The offered space could be anywhere in our area, in any type of building, and generally with only a few weeks’ notice given.

Visit Brand X to submit an idea and for more information.

Last updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2014