Are you an artist or creative collective who needs cost-free space to do what you do best? We’ve got room for you!
Ethical Property wants to provide artists with space to practice or perform their craft and reconnect with audiences after a brutal 18 months of lockdowns and cancellations. Room for Art will offer artists cost-free, easy access to two unique venues within their heritage listed, CBD building donkey wheel house.
Spearheading the project will be Melbourne theatre-maker and producer, Kimberley Twiner who will co-ordinate the diverse program of events over a 12 week period.
Mask making? We’re into it. Intimate shows? You got it. Workshops for movement or mime? Yes please!
Ethical Property recognises that the artistic community has been profoundly impacted by the lockdown. Creative folk have faced cancellations, delays, loss of work and creative frustration. Ethical Property wants to make Room for Art by providing the creative community with access to cost-free space so that artists can begin to return to what they do best. The intention is to facilitate an enjoyable experience for artists and audiences alike.
Ethical Property creates inclusive spaces where organisations come together to make a difference. We own, lease and manage properties focusing on people, place and purpose. Our mission is to build a property platform that enables commercial property to become community assets. Improving lives and assisting communities and individuals to achieve positive economic, civic and social outcomes.
Kimberley Twiner is an award-winning performer and director. She is founder of the Melbourne Physical Theatre School and produces training and workshops grounded in the Lecoq pedagogy of movement theatre. She is Artistic Director of award-winning queer comedy troupe PO PO MO CO; collaborating Director of The Travelling Sisters and Co-Artistic Director of award-winning clown company Fish & Twiner’s Baitshop. Her most recent work is with the Brunswick East Entertainment Festival and The Wholesome Hour, who in 2021 both won prestigious Green Room Awards. After almost two years of lockdown Kimberley is interested in cultivating feel-good, easy-to-access, grass-roots theatre events that bring the Melbourne community back together again.
We have two large quirky and ornate spaces known fondly as The Ballroom and The Basement within a centrally located building.
donkey wheel house
An atmospheric venue with intersecting walkways, arched ceilings and smaller chambers that evoke feelings of being lost in the catacombs. It is a space filled with small maze-like nooks and is great for weird and wonderful intimate arts events, workshops or exhibitions.
Best suited for:
Whilst never actually used as a ballroom, this is the kind of space you just want to dance in. It is a spacious 19th Century room steeped in heritage character with polished wooden floors and a high vaulted ceiling. As one large open space it is perfect for intimate performances and is suitable for noisy events most evenings or Sunday any-time during the program period.
Best suited for:
15 Nov 21 – 17 Feb 22
We have planned to begin one week after the projected Nov 5th date of Melbourne’s reopening for indoor activities. Based on current estimates, density quotients of 1 person per 4sqm will be applicable. Should we be required to return to lockdown, any events that can’t take place will be rescheduled for when we resume activities out of lockdown (we will not cancel your time).
There is no selection process. It is first come first served, everyone is welcome. The program will prioritise projects from First Nations folk, women, LQBTQIA+ folk, persons living with disability and culturally and linguistically diverse folk. Applications will not be judged on artistic merit. If the schedule can work then you’re in!
As part of the agreement, artists will be asked to promote their use of donkey wheel house on their social media; agree to be photographed throughout the program; and provide a reflection or testimonial articulating what brought them joy and lit them up during their project or performance on site. The artist testimonials will be compiled into an exhibition at the close of the program.
For the full information pack with venue photos, and to apply, please get in touch.
E: [email protected]
When donkey wheel trust purchased the property in 2008, they did so with a vision to create a “communiversity” – a place to enable people to come together to develop new ideas to shape a better society.
Our purpose is still to provide space to allow innovative thinkers and their organisations opportunities to achieve more than they could elsewhere, and so to help grow the social change sector.
We achieve this by co-locating social and environmental impact organisations in the building, providing them with access to people, skills, services, and opportunities that help them achieve more. Organisations tell us of the specific benefits they have received, and that being co-located in an Ethical Property centre helps them deliver their strategic objectives more effectively.
We actively manage our tenant group, working with them to identify how best to take advantage of the set-up at donkey wheel house – whether through sharing facilities and services, working on projects together, or using the scale and profile of the building to attract new opportunities.
Examples of this include becoming the CBD headquarters for the Victorian Small Business Festival, with special panels convened to discuss social enterprise and “profit with purpose”; providing a range of shared services (such as high-speed fibre broadband) and facilities such as meeting rooms; and being the location for the 2015 Australian Progress “after party”, held in the laneway adjoining the building.
dwh was originally the headquarters of the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company (MT&OC). Designed in the Venetian Gothic style, it was opened in 1891 at the height of Victoria’s 19th century boom and stood as an overt expression of prosperity.
The building is of historical significance as a substantial reminder of the origins of Melbourne’s tram system. The MT&OC developed Melbourne’s first horse tramway system and then, after much controversy, Melbourne’s extensive cable tram system from 1885. It was one of the most extensive in the world at the time, had a profound effect on the development of Melbourne’s social life and physical form. The company’s success was reflected in this substantial and attractive building, an important remaining element of Melbourne’s early tramway infrastructure.
Melbourne’s cable tram network was in decline by the start of the 20th century due to the rise of electrified tramways. The MT&OC was dissolved in 1919, and the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (M&MTB) was established to assume control of both the remaining cable tram network and the electrified network. The former MT&OC building then became the new headquarters for the M&MTB. Since its construction the building has been used continuously for office and retail purposes.
By 2008 the building had fallen into considerable disrepair. It was purchased by donkey wheel Charitable Trust and, in partnership with the National Trust (Victoria), the donkey wheel house (dwh) National Trust Appeal was established in order to restore the building and bring it into order, to protect the heritage value and fabric of the property.
donkey wheel Trust oversaw the refurbishment works and began to rent office space to social enterprises incubated in the building. These included STREAT, Kinfolk Cafe, The Difference Incubator and Ethical Property Australia. In 2014 management of the building transferred to Ethical Property Australia and in 2016 the property transferred ownership to the Ethical Property Commercial Fund.
Tenants now include Kinfolk cafe, The Difference Incubator, Children’s Ground, The Big Issue, Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, The School of Life, Benefit Capital and SPELD Victoria. In 2017/18 we will be refurbishing the basement which will then be available for rent, increasing the spaces on offer to the social impact community.
It seems fitting that a building which started out as a centre of transport innovation, bringing mass transit to Melbourne, should now be a centre of social innovation, still dedicated to improving the lives of ordinary people.
Looking for a new office? Contact us to see what space is available.
donkey wheel house
673 Bourke Street