An artistic streak has run strongly through Kacy Grainger since childhood. But she always assumed…
A dynamic creative space brimming with collaboration and fresh ideas, where artists and small businesses work in harmony in the heart of Canberra.
Meet Keep Co CBR, Canberra’s newest creative workspace.
When artist and designer Anna Trundle moved back to Canberra from Melbourne in 2013, she saw a gap in the market for a place where artists could share studio space with desk-based creatives and small businesses could find their first four walls.
Having been a part of similar communities in Melbourne, Anna says it was always her goal to create such a space in Canberra – one that would expand beyond just a place to work and also play host to panels, workshops and a gallery and retail space.
“Canberra is overflowing with creative talent, locally made products and really impactful ideas that are continuing to shape our identity as a relatively young city. We have supportive and hard-working arts organisations, nationally recognised events like Handmade Markets and DESIGN Canberra, and successful home-grown small businesses that are putting Canberra on the map – but there’s still a lot of isolation in the early stages of self-employment, between contracts or heading up a small business.”
Working as the Program Manager for NewActon’s Art Not Apart festival for the last three years as well as curating ANU’s Prompt Gallery and managing the Inner North Art Prize, Anna knows the ups and downs of life for Canberran creatives, including the struggle to find suitable workspaces.
“For independent creative and new businesses, it’s a huge financial and durational commitment to find a space that isn’t your lounge room or a café to kick off a productive workday. Canberra has established fine art studios for those who need their own space to spread out in, and there’s slick co-working offices where you sign up for a desk and a locker – but we’re missing a space that allows for everything else in between. Somewhere that harnesses the energy and excitement of working alongside a diverse group of artists, designers, retailers and entrepreneurs, and allows us to connect and collaborate with them in the real world.”
An artist herself under the name of ALTA Papercraft, Anna knows how difficult it can be to work from home.
Keep Co will offer a welcoming yet professional alternative, with all the mod-cons including flexible layouts and spaces for a range of creative uses, office space and storage for small business, meeting rooms, fast internet and printing services as well as hot desks for part-time and casual members. But Anna’s aim is for Keep Co to go far beyond just a workplace.
“Running workshops and doing markets were absolute game-changers for me in my approach to my practice. It made me genuinely engage with my customers and clients to explain my work and share those skills with other people. My work was better and I was feeling more inspired and confident. Keep Co encourages members to run their own workshops, discussions and events to form a regular monthly program, inviting the wider community to make themselves at home in the space and learn something new from a fellow Canberran. There’s so much talent here and so much to be learnt from others. That’s an integral part of what Keep is designed to do. Everyone’s got something great to share.”
Sound like your kind of collective? Anna is currently putting a call out for members.
“Keep is built for illustrators, crafters, artists, textiles and fashion designers, desk-based creatives, businesses who need storage and workspace, folks looking for retail opportunities, a small business needing an affordable and lively office environment, and facilitators of events and workshops,” she explains. “Anyone who is being held back by isolation or has outgrown working from home, who feels priced out of the commercial rental market or who is currently in a space that doesn’t meet their needs – we want everyone to come out of the woodwork and join forces to help shape something really unique for our city.”
The founding members of Keep are on the hunt for their perfect location, which Anna describes as “character-filled and rustic, a secure yet visible space with loads of natural light, endless windows and high ceilings”. She adds that Keep Co will also include a hireable photography studio, retail pop-up opportunities for local brands and a flexible layout for anyone to host events, workshops, classes and meetings. But beyond that, it will create the opportunity to be part of a tight-knit community in a space designed to suit the needs of its members, rather than the other way around.
“Members of the Keep Co will have the chance to be a part of a fresh new community of independent creators to inspire and support you in during the uncertainty of starting a new business or working for yourself,” says Anna. “As you grow and expand or shift your requirements, you can rearrange your commitment or layout in the space. That flexibility is so valuable and very hard to find when you’re getting started.”
After having such a positive response to the initiative over the last few months, Anna and the Keep founding members are putting a call out across their networks to see if there is potential to expand into something larger than they had originally planned as a smaller group.
“The spaces we’re looking at would kick off very soon, potentially with a few temporary pop-ups in vacant spaces to get the ball rolling and to trial different areas,” she adds. “So we’d love to hear from individuals and businesses that are keen to get involved – or anyone that might be sitting on a vacant property that could do with a creative overhaul!”
Interested in joining Keep Co CBR? Send an email to email@example.com.