An Oxford Street shopfront has been transformed into a space for inner-city skaters, featuring a custom-built indoor half pipe, street art workshops and pirate radio station.
World Famous Westsyde is the latest addition to the City of Sydney’s creative spaces program, which has housed more than 20 creative start-ups in Council properties in Darlinghurst since February 2012.
After just two months on Oxford Street, Westsyde has already attracted a loyal following of local skaters keen to practice their moves under the guidance of famed street artists or try their hand at a radio segment.
“Oxford Street has long been one of Sydney’s most lively and iconic precincts, so it’s only fitting that it’s now home to a new wave of emerging creative and social enterprises,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“Westsyde’s innovative approach to bringing the community together through skateboarding, art and music is already drawing crowds, and I look forward to seeing what they turn to next.”
The brainchild of artist RJ Williams, skateboarding guru Nathan Ho and Indigenous entrepreneur John Saulo, Westsyde was set up in Dulwich Hill in 2009 as a skate shop, selling skateboards, clothes and shoes along with limited edition artworks by local street and graffiti artists.
The new Oxford Street outpost offers free skate clinics for local disadvantaged kids, an internship program for budding creative workers, and a gallery space which has featured well-known street artists including Ben Frost, Numskull and Beastman. A series of school holiday education programs is also in the works.
“Settling into our new space in Darlinghurst has been great – we’ve had a lot of support from our neighbours and a really good response from the local community,” RJ Williams said.
“The City’s creative spaces program is fantastic, and really necessary because of the price of property in Sydney. Without programs like this, I don’t know how a young creative could ever get started.”
Westsyde is the first creative enterprise from the City’s short-term creative spaces register to be offered a space since the register’s creation, replacing one of the program’s original tenants.
The register is designed to give innovative creative ideas short-term access to spaces in Council-owned properties in between commercial tenancies or during building upgrades or repairs, to ensure that no spaces remain vacant.
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