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Bill and George – a new space for local artists

A former Redfern nunnery that was left vacant and had fallen into disrepair has been leased to a group of local artists who have given it a face-lift and promise to turn it into a vibrant artist-run space reports Reem Al-Gharabally in the South Sydney Herald of October 2007.

Bill and George on William Street next to Reconciliation Park, will provide 13 studios for artists working in a range of areas from digital media and film to visual arts and dance. It will also provide a home for the Sydney Latin American Film Festival.

In the last few years, Sydney has lost a number of artist-run initiatives like the Wedding Circle and Pelt in Chippendale, Space 3 and La Franchis in Surry Hills among others that have offered a space for artists to work and exhibit outside the commercial gallery scene.

“Artists need space and every community needs artists. It is a drain on society if artists are unable to work in their area of skill,” says Bek Conroy, a founding member of Bill and George who works in devised performance.

A veteran in artist-run initiatives, including the Wedding Circle, Ms Conroy says there is a paucity of spaces for artists in the city because of an agenda that gives priority to property development.

She says that although the main focus of the new space will be to provide a stable environment for artists to work, they also want to form genuine working relations with their neighbours and the Indigenous community of Redfern.

“We don’t just want to work in the arts sector, although it is important that we consolidate our own creative community. We also have a responsibility to go outside our little square and be a link between different industries and different sections of the community. That’s what we hope we will do,” she says.

Bill and George will also run a designated arts lab program that is supported by the Cultural Development Unit of the City of Sydney. It will provide three-month residencies for artists on a rotating basis.

A website is currently under construction:

Source: South Sydney Herald October 2007