19 April 2024

Wollongong creative space Society City calls for help to keep the lights on

| Zoe Cartwright
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Manager Josh Shimmen says Society City just needs to scrape together $5k to cover COVID debts before it becomes self-sustaining. Photo: Zoe Cartwright.

Wollongong’s unique Society City has put out the call – it needs your help.

The ambitious project to build a space in Wollongong that nurtures creative talent and provide people with a space to gather without breaking the bank was launched in 2019 – about six months before COVID hit.

Manager Josh Shimmen said that as with many small, independent, community-run initiatives, lockdowns and cost-of-living increases took their toll on Society City.

He’s spent the past year bringing it back to a place where it can cover running costs, but debts need to be paid – and fast.

READ ALSO Welcome to Wollongong’s hidden creative hub – Society City

“Tumultuous is an understatement for the past five years for us,” he said.

“The real estate agency has been really good to us, they stood by us through COVID and allowed $5k of rent to sit there and float for a couple of years.

“But we’ve used up all the leash we have with them, and we need to clear as much of that debt as possible within the next week or so if we’re going to keep the doors open.”

A fundraiser launched on Chuffed has already made more than half of what’s needed, with about 60 members of the community kicking in some funds – mostly in the vicinity of $10-$50.

Josh said while the collective was able to cover its own running costs for now, it still catered for and was run by a community that didn’t have a lot of cash to splash.

“It’s definitely not an insurmountable goal – with the trajectory we’re on at the moment I think we could chip away at it over five months,” he said.

“But we need to come up with it now, and for a community that doesn’t have a tonne of money to spend, five grand is a lot.”

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If they can make rent Society City will celebrate its fifth birthday at the end of May.

Josh said it was an opportunity to look ahead as well celebrate what they had achieved.

“Since COVID we’ve been chasing this carrot to get out from under,” he said.

“Once we achieve it we can start to look forward to how we can expand.

“In five years’ time I’d love to see us at double the size we are now.

“I’d love to prove we can keep our values and make this concept commercially viable, and to make more of these spaces out in the world where people can go to just exist.

“We’ve got this far with no money and everything secondhand – imagine what we could do with some investment.”

To donate, head to Save Society City (for the last time)! | Chuffed | Non-profit charity and social enterprise fundraising

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