Urban Dream Brokerage

2 April 2013

Have you got, or do you know of, an empty retail or commercial space that’s up for rent but hasn’t had much interest? If so, you should contact The Urban Dream Brokerage.

Male and female performers posing in white wedding dresses.

Local artists and performers are in need of vacant commercial space for temporary shows.


The brokerage pairs property owners / managers with people in the creative industries so they can temporarily use a vacant space for free to exhibit their work or put on a show.

The six-month pilot is funded by our Public Arts Fund. The brokerage wants to present / exhibit at least six artworks by the end of May but it needs to find more willing property owners.

So, what’s in it for the property owner?

“People will become interested in the building because it’s just not an empty space anymore. It will also increase its desirability - a space looks better if it’s inhabited,” says broker Helen Kirlew Smith.

The Urban Dream Brokerage was founded by Sophie Jerram and Mark Amery, based on similarly successful schemes overseas.

Helen is the broker - she sources the owners, makes the introductions, arranges the temporary licence and organises the artists’ public liability insurance.

“It’s a real barrier for most artists to do site-specific work when the owners aren’t indemnified against costs or injuries. The brokerage provides an umbrella of public liability insurance for them.

“I also arrange a short-term licence, so it’s very clear and explicit to both owner and artist of what we expect from this tenancy.”

The brokerage has already paired up three artists with property owners. A Tui McLauchlan Emerging Artist’s Award winner, James R Ford, was the first brokered artist. His three-week installation Status Quo was displayed in an empty retail space on Courtenay Place. Scales of the Serpent by Tessa Laird is now showing on the wall opposite 19 Tory Street.

Now looking for space is Brides - how I got the dresses, an installation featuring more than 100 dresses. Visitors to the space will be invited to try on a dress and discuss their ideas on marriage with theatre practitioners Anya Tate-Manning and Jo Randerson.

“There are vacant retail spaces in Wellington City, and it would be really nice to fill those up with the creative industries.”

Helen says they’re looking to extend the scheme past six months. “We’re really lucky because we’ve got such a variety of artists and theatre makers who have proposed work for a variety of vacant spaces - and even wall space - so if anyone is interested in talking to us we can give them a range to choose from.”

If you have, or know of, a property that could be used by an Urban Dream Brokerage artist, you can phone Helen on 027 378 7432.

For more information, visit:

Urban Dream Brokerage