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Look What Just Popped Up


Pop-ups seem to be everywhere at the moment. Regional Arts NSW interviewed Pop-Up Parramatta’s Creative Broker, Merryn Spencer, (formerly of Orana Arts) as part of a series of interviews that will be featured on this website on pop-up shops, space activation and the creative scene’s engagement with this movement. Interview by Estelle Pigot.  

What is the first step for a council or community who want to create pop-up opportunities in their region? 

As the empty spaces landscape is still emerging in Australia, there are many ways of undertaking a pop-up opportunity. In our Council, it’s part of an integrated series of projects to enhance and enliven the experience of the city for those who live, work and play in the area and creating a ‘filler’ between major redevelopments in the area.


What first steps are critical for an artist or collective considering taking on a space? 

1)      Get your insurance sorted out.

2)      Decide who will be the leader if you are an ARI or group.

3)      Stick to the plan.


What are the 3 – 5 considerations for pop-ups that nobody ever thinks about until it’s too late?


Have you encountered any regional pop-ups that have impressed you?

Each regional project has its own special flavour but I think metro based projects could learn a lot from our regional neighbours.

GOSFORD: Driven by the business community

NEWCASTLE: “Renew Newcastle” The original and the best. Fantastic non-profit model!

WYONG: Catering to the community rather than focused on creative industries

LISMORE: “Art at the Heart” Capitalising on the high density creative community in the Northern Rivers

I think sometimes also it works the best in regional areas when it’s project based. For example as part of festivals it’s worked extremely well like at Kandos Cementa in February where shopfronts were taken over by artists for a specific project.


What do you believe is the value of a pop-up project to a community?


What makes an amazing pop-up?

The things that make a project standout are about how artists run their ship; their drive and determination, rather than pure creative talent, although this is a major factor.

Here are some other important factors:


Diversifying is important: looking into local markets, workshops, pop-up stores in other locations, online Etsy stores and networks plus constantly plugging through social media networks, . I take my hat off to any artist who runs an empty spaces project as they are really challenging.

This becomes easier each time you do it. Even after you have all of this, it’s that “X factor” that makes it work.


What are some resources available to people looking for pop-up inspiration, ideas and support?


Regional Arts NSW attended the Creating Spaces conference in Newcastle in February 2013, read more on the event here.


(Article) Photo by Amanda James,Simon Cook (mpathe) herb ladder , 2012

(Home) Photo by Alex Wisser, SHH Centre for Hybrid Arts Halloween show, 2012