Not long ago, there were few places in Parramatta where artists could exhibit and sell their work.
But with the help of the Pop Up Parramatta arts program, a growing number of small galleries and studios have opened and the city’s creative types have made the most of the opportunity.
Parramatta Art Society president Dennis Sultana said more than 220 paintings had been sold in 10 months from the gallery on the corner of Darcy and Church streets.
‘‘We sold 24 paintings last month,’’ he said.
In the same arcade off Church Street Mall is a gallery operated by Parramatta Clay Arts Incorporated.
Sculptor Lindy Lawler said the gallery had turned a once-vacant shop into a creative cooperative for local artists.
‘‘It’s good to have the backing of the council,’’ Ms Lawler said.
‘‘You can start things up like this on your own but it’s much more difficult than if you have the backing of government or a council.’’
These galleries are just two projects of almost 170 cultural initiatives set up over the past 18 months by Parramatta Council’s Pop Up project.
Project curators find under-used spaces in the city for artists and cultural activities to use.
It has been so successful the program recently won the Local Government Arts and Culture Award in the Developing Creative and Cultural Industries category.
Lord mayor John Chedid said the project had successfully connected with the community.
‘‘The Pop Up project activates vacant commercial and retail spaces and supports creative enterprise,’’ he said.
‘‘We match innovative artists, cultural projects and community groups with empty buildings until these buildings become commercially viable or are redeveloped.
‘‘There are a number of benefits received through this initiative, such as adding vibrancy to the community as well as providing a low-cost option for artists to showcase and sell their creative works.’’
Details about the program:
■ Pop Up Parramatta is a project of Parramatta City Council with co-funding from Arts NSW;
■ It is based on the Renew Newcastle project in that city, which has operated for about five years;
■ Artists and cultural projects get use of vacant buildings and shop fronts until landlords find commercial uses for their properties;
■ Pop Up Parramatta, contact Merryn Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 98065743, for more information.