Beers and Ideas and Warrnambool City Council helping to create vibrant public spaces

BRIGHTENING OUR STREETS: Warrnambool artist Jimmy Buscombe and Beers and Ideas founder Sinead Murphy want Warrnambool residents to create vibrant, authentic and memorable public spaces. Picture: Christine Ansorge
BRIGHTENING OUR STREETS: Warrnambool artist Jimmy Buscombe and Beers and Ideas founder Sinead Murphy want Warrnambool residents to create vibrant, authentic and memorable public spaces. Picture: Christine Ansorge

As Warrnambool City Council’s $15 million central business district renewal continues, placemaking has become the latest buzzword. But what does it mean and how can you get involved? Journalist RACHAEL HOULIHAN finds out. 

A pop-up bar one week, a laneway with a basketball court the next.

The possibilities for our city are endless, with a little bit of thought and creativity. 

WOW: A mock-up of Warrnambool artist Jimmi Buscombe's placemaking mural for the Ozone Walk, off Koroit Street. Buscombe won the first Beers and Ideas event.

WOW: A mock-up of Warrnambool artist Jimmi Buscombe's placemaking mural for the Ozone Walk, off Koroit Street. Buscombe won the first Beers and Ideas event.

One Warrnambool resident is encouraging the community to get involved and help make the city a great place to be.

Graphic designer Sinead Murphy is the founder of initiative Beers and Ideas Warrnambool, a placemaking project to help ideas come to life. 

With the support of the Warrnambool City Council, she has hosted the first Beers and Ideas night, where four people pitched their concepts to activate the central business district.

Placemaking is the process of creating vibrant, authentic and memorable public spaces that are valued by the community and visitors. It inspires people to re-imagine and reinvent the public spaces they share and to work together to articulate, plan and deliver a vision for a better place.

Ms Murphy said placemaking was about livening up spaces as a community.

“It’s about changing the perception that council has to do everything,” she said.

“We can create our own usable, authentic public spaces that people can have a sense of ownership of. There is a creative energy in Warrnambool at the moment. With the Liebig Street renewal it’s good timing. There’s a blank canvas for things to happen.” 

BRIGHTENING OUR STREETS: Beers and Ideas Warrnambool founder Sinead Murphy ran a pop-up flower stall in Liebig Street and gave away free bunches of flowers. Picture: Christine Ansorge

BRIGHTENING OUR STREETS: Beers and Ideas Warrnambool founder Sinead Murphy ran a pop-up flower stall in Liebig Street and gave away free bunches of flowers. Picture: Christine Ansorge

Placemaking is happening in cities all around the world.

Ideas and activities include building a public herb garden, hosting an open-air cinema, a laneway music, street art or food festival, creating murals, transforming a car park into a beach, installing an outdoor hammock lounge, creating a lunchtime spot to sit and relax, lighting up laneways with lampshades, hosting a pop-up restaurant, sporting matches or a glow in the dark laneway festival. 

Warrnambool City Council is helping to fund Beers and Ideas event nights for the first 12 months and is offering matched funding for projects for a year.

The nights take place at Super Kawaii Studio, in Koroit Street, and the next one is on December 6.

Ms Murphy said on the night people paid $10 for entry and a drink. Then four people would pitch their placemaking idea, for five minutes each. The audience can ask questions, before they vote on their favourite idea.

The idea with the most votes wins the entry fee cash, which will be matched by the council, to bring the placemaking concept to fruition. Ms Murphy said ideas for the December event needed to be in by November 26. 

The first winner of Beers and Ideas was Jimmi Buscombe, who took home home $1500 for his idea, which was to paint a mural on the side of the Ozone Walk.

About 80 people attended, giving feedback and suggestions.

Buscombe said it was a “brilliant opportunity for anyone in Warrnambool”.

“It’s a poignant time for this to be happening as there is such a huge creative energy here,” he said.

“Anyone can get involved. There’s a real creative push, with new bars, cafes and small businesses.”

He said he was nervous before he pitched his idea, however the crowd was supportive and encouraging.

The council’s placemaking officer Helen Sheedy said it was something the council was “really excited about”. 

“We are looking for things like performances that can activate the activity nodes in Liebig Street, and we are also looking for ideas for different points of interest in the CBD,” she said.

“It’s all about making places more interesting. We are hoping Liebig Street and the CBD becomes a place people want to spend time in, because last time they were there they had an interesting experience.” 

To submit your idea for visit www.beersandideas.com.au or to find further information and project suggestions.