Have you got an idea for a creative project, but just need somewhere to make it happen? Maybe you need a temporary production office, creative retail, exhibition or a studio workshop space?

In an effort to meet the growing demand for short-term space and maximising the use of under-utilised properties, Brand X has been engaged by the City of Sydney (City) to match creative projects with short term temporary space when it is made available to enable those creative ideas to happen.

Have you got an idea for a creative project, but just need somewhere to make it happen?

The City has long recognised the challenges facing creative practitioners when seeking affordable space to work in the inner city. The City seeks to support artists and those working in the creative industries by providing subsidised space for creative practice. The City owns a number of properties, including retail, community and office space across the inner-city area and from time to time these properties may be empty for short periods between commercial tenancies or when repairs or upgrades are required to the buildings.

In order to make sure these properties aren’t sitting empty, the City makes them available on a temporary basis for short term creative projects including creative working studios, exhibition space, creative retail and temporary office space for project work. If you are an arts-based organisation or individual and are looking for a short-term space to develop, showcase, trade or trial your new creative project or enterprise, then the Short-Term Empty Property (STEP) program may be an opportunity for you.


The STEP program supports Sydney artists to develop, make and/or sell handcrafted and small batch products, develop creative practice and projects or to service other local creative practitioners. The STEP program is not intended for commercial goods/services which are available elsewhere. Projects seeking ‘pop-up’ or ‘brand’ opportunities should contact commercial real estate agents, private landlords or leaseholders.


We are looking for Projects which:

  • Sell, showcase or support local creative practitioners.
  • Provide connections to and benefit for the Sydney creative community.
  • Complement existing businesses or activities in the immediate area.
  • Offer something unique with proven demand.
  • If a public facing project, are likely to increase foot traffic to the area they are located in.
The Process

To be considered for a short-term space you will need to register an Expression of Interest for your “Project”.

Registered Projects that are compatible with the permitted use of an available property are shortlisted.

Shortlisted organisations/individuals will be invited to attend a site inspection to determine appropriateness of the property to the Project.

After inspection, interested organisations/individuals will be invited to submit a more detailed proposal.

Proposals will be reviewed, with the most suitable Project to be recommend to the City.

The successful organisation/individual will enter into a licence agreement with the City and become operational in the property for a maximum term of 12-months.

The Properties

Properties that could become available through the STEP program may include:

  • OFFICES – suitable for creative working studios or temporary office space.
  • RETAIL – suitable for creative retail or gallery and exhibition space.
  • COMMUNITY – suitable for workshop, studio, office or rehearsal space.

Given that the objective of this program is immediate activation of empty properties and that there will only ever be a short-term lease provided, it is expected that organisations/individuals will ‘hit the ground running’ by activating their property quickly and commencing their projects with limited delays.

All properties are offered on an ‘as is’ basis and the City will not undertake any works to the properties. Costs associated with specific fit out requirements including signage will be the sole responsibility of the organisation/individual. As the City is providing the properties at a greatly reduced rental, no further rental reductions will be provided, and the organisation/individual will be prohibited from making any claims for rental abatements, compensation or other monetary claims relating to any aspect of the properties, including associated with occupation of the properties. The organisation/individual will accept these terms as part of signing up to a licence for a property.

Projects will need to be compatible with the permitted use under any development consents for the property or zoning provisions for the land.

The Licence
  • The City and the organisation/individual will enter into the STEP licence for an initial term to be determined on a case by case basis (usually 3—12 months).
  • In order to enter into the licence with the City the organisation/individual must have a valid ABN.
  • Subsidised rent is $100 per week + GST paid to the City. In recognition of the significantly reduced rental, no other monetary benefits, rent reductions or compensation claims will be permitted or paid under the licence.
  • The organisation/individual is required to pay all outgoings related to the property (ie: electricity, internet, waste and cleaning).
  • Should the property continue to be available after the initial licence term, the organisation/individual may have the opportunity to holdover for month to month or extended for an additional period (to a maximum of 12 months only).
  • Upfront costs include a security deposit of four (4) weeks rent and rent is payable one (1) month in advance.
  • All organisations/individuals will require Public Liability Insurance. (In some cases, the City may be able to offer cover to early stage or start up groups who do not currently hold current insurance and have not previously traded.)
  • Retail spaces are required to take out Plate Glass Insurance.

Successful Projects will be expected to:

  • Comply with the terms of the Licence and the permitted use of the property.
  • Keep the property clean, presentable and safe.
  • Activate all areas of the property at a minimum of 8 hours a day, 5 days per week.
  • Work with the City to provide access to the property if required.
  • Participate, where possible in events and opportunities developed by the City.
  • Work with the City’s media unit to promote the STEP program and the Project.
  • Foster positive relationships with neighbouring tenants and community stakeholders.
  • Collaborate with other Creative Space program tenants and other local initiatives.
  • Provide data and feedback to the City on your experience in the STEP program.
Step 1: Register an EOI

Complete this form to register an Expression of Interest with the STEP program. Completing this form will not guarantee your Project a space but place it on a register. If one becomes available and it meets your criteria, you’ll be contacted to arrange an inspection (Step 2). Your EOI will be valid for 12-months.