Economically-sound strategy helps position Ballarat as a creative city now and into the future.

Just over one hour outside Melbourne, Ballarat is celebrated for its rich and proud history as a gold rush town, the birthplace of Australian democracy, and some of Australia’s best-preserved heritage architecture. In more recent years, the city’s arts and cultural scene and creative industries have become increasingly important to the place identity.

In 2018, we worked with the City of Ballarat - in collaboration with MGS Architects, Left Bank Co and Eleni Arbus - to deliver a bespoke Creative City Strategy and Masterplan to strengthen Ballarat’s position as a creative city over the next 20 years. The strategy was produced at a strategic moment in Ballarat’s development, with unprecedented population growth anticipated over the next decade and several projects in the pipeline, which will transform the central business district.

To research, engage, plan, design, test, and produce a Creative City Strategy and Masterplan involved a complex scope of work. Our role was to lead a co-design process with the Ballarat community which was key to the shaping of the strategy and master plan.

Community engagement in the project was deliberately planned to substantively shape the strategy rather than merely provide ‘input’ to complement technical analyses. Accordingly, the preparation of technical analyses and evidence on Ballarat’s Creative Economy (SGS), Ecology (Left Bank Co) and Precinct (MGS) was intended to empower community stakeholders to agree on strategic directions, priorities and key actions. This approach was critical to gaining the engagement, support and trust of the community over time. MGS led the Precinct Master Plan, which focuses on the physical outcomes of the broader Ballarat Creative City Strategy.

Ballarat Creative City

The outcome is a strategy and masterplan focused on growing the city’s creative industries jobs while simultaneously seeking to increase participation in creative life, grow the cultural visitor economy, embed creative thinking into other industries and develop a world-class creative precinct. All of these factors contributed to a robust strategy and masterplan to guide Ballarat’s development as a creative city that will wear changes in economic forces, drive businesses to grow and deliver greater community cohesion and wellbeing.

The Ballarat Creative City Strategy and Master Plan were unanimously adopted by Council in May 2019. The Strategy won awards in late 2019.

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