A vision to put Launceston on the world stage for the best artistic, cultural and creative thinkers will result in a unique development.
New Creative Group is a consortium of designers, strategists and educators who have banded together to develop the vision for a $90 million Launceston Creative Precinct, unveiled today.
The consortium was founded and is headed up by Chris Billing, who also is the founder of education institution Foundry.
The Creative Precinct will be home to a new creative hub, situated on the existing Paterson Street Central car park. Negotiations on the sale of the car park are ongoing between New Creative, the City of Launceston council and the owner. Care Park leases the land.
Foundry will be the cornerstone of the new creative precinct. It will take up residence in a new purpose-built campus, which will allow the organisation to expand its enrolment places.
Other elements of the hub will include learning spaces, commercial tenancies and retail spaces to link to the other parts of the hub, such as the bus mall and Birchalls' retail space. The bus mall and Birchalls are being developed in conjunction with the creative industries hub but will be developed by the City of Launceston council.
New Creative director Mr Billing said the creative hub was a project driven by private investment and would position Launceston at the forefront of the nation but also the world in innovative education.
"It is an exciting time for Launceston, as we work towards a creative vision that will drive an influx of fresh space and new thinking helping us build our local economy and foster internationally recognised education," Mr Billing said.
"We are seeking to put Launceston on the map as a new creative and cultural hub ... a hub that people around Australia will know as a hot spot for emerging design and creative activities."
In Tasmania, there are more than 9000 people directly employed in the cultural and creative industries, and the sector contributes more than $30 billion annually in Australia.
A vital part of the hub will be the purpose-built campus for Foundry, which Mr Billing said would open up new streams of student cohorts for its course offerings.
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"Foundry intends to take up significant space within the precinct, and it will allow us to offer new courses, but also open up more placements for our existing courses," he said.
In recent weeks, Foundry came under fire after news broke the company had not been able to meet superannuation payments for its staff and that it had missed pay cycles. However, Mr Billing said securing private investment for this precinct, would help to solidify the start-up's future in Launceston.
"It [the development] means Foundry has a clear vision and this will mean that we will be able to open up our courses to the interstate market and we expect a small number of international students."
Foundry offers short courses in design, content writing and photography, among other creative pursuits, and has partnerships with the University of Tasmania and Swinburne University. Mr Billing said there were no plans for either of those tertiary institutions or any others, to have a physical presence at the precinct at this stage. However, he said New Creative were actively seeking partnerships of this nature, with commercial and education operators.
He said the creative precinct had the opportunity to delve into new technological spaces, such as augmented reality. Construction on the precinct will start in 2021, with staged openings throughout late 2022 until the last quarter of 2023.