In 2014, Firstdraft commenced a new chapter, relocating to the Firstdraft Depot, the organisation’s former studio complex. The redevelopment of the Depot saw the distinct flatiron building transformed from a studio facility into a comprehensive emerging and experimental arts centre with four purpose built galleries, two discrete studios and a creative office space. A second stage of redevelopment in 2015 will see a City of Sydney funded project to landscape the private outdoor courtyard into a shared community garden and event area for our stakeholders and the greater Woolloomooloo community.
Firstdraft is positioned within the Woolloomooloo creative precinct alongside collegiate bodies such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Chalk Horse, Alaska Projects, Artspace and Minerva and essential community services like the PCYC and Catholic Care.
The efforts of past and present Firstdraft board members, volunteers and the continual generous support from the City of Sydney, Arts NSW and the Australia Council for the Arts have enabled Firstdraft to enter this new phase of broader public engagement and further our aim of being one of Australia’s premier platforms for the support and professional development of artists, writers, curators and cultural producers.
Firstdraft acknowledges and respects the traditional owners of the land on which the organisation is located, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. It is upon their ancestral lands that the Riley Street Depot is built. As we share our own knowledge, teaching, learning and cultural practices within this community may we also pay respect to the knowledge embedded forever within the Aboriginal Custodianship of Country.
Firstdraft is a national artist-led organisation that fosters and creates a professional context for the exploration of experimental and emerging arts practice. We believe that in order to sustain a cultural ecology, we must provide a dynamic and energetic infrastructure that positions artists firmly at its centre. The organisation delivers a diverse range of programs that are committed to furthering critical ideas and practices in contemporary art. These programs include: Exhibitions, the Firstdraft Curators’ Program, Firstdraft Studio Space, the Firstdraft Writers’ Program and a regular series of public programs and live events.
In 2014, the organisation’s former studio complex, the Depot, was converted into an all-encompassing facility to accommodate the development and presentation of contemporary arts practice. The distinct flatiron architecture of the Depot is preserved in Firstdraft’s expansive new exhibition spaces, which feature alongside two studios, collaborative work spaces, and a large, private outdoor courtyard.
Located in the inner-city suburb of Woolloomooloo, a diverse and vibrant creative arts precinct, Firstdraft is positioned amongst some of the city’s foremost artistic and cultural institutions, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Artspace, as well as galleries such as Chalk Horse, Minerva and Alaska Projects, the City of Sydney William Street Creative Hub and Live Work Space initiatives. Together these organisations contribute to the culturally rich atmosphere of this emerging creative district.
The Firstdraft Writers’ Program seeks to foster an expanded arts writing practice, whereby writers are positioned alongside artists as both makers and thinkers. It welcomes writers exploring the intersection of the critical and the creative; the text and its enunciation; and text as both idea and material.
As part of the Firstdraft Writers’ Program, writers are engaged in a three-month professional development program, producing experimental texts to be presented at the conclusion of their residency. These texts can take any number of forms – print, digital or performed; critical or otherwise; responsive to exhibitions or independent. They are launched quarterly at openings.
Firstdraft support experimental and critical writing practices as integral to a thriving artistic environment, whereby writers can be artists and vice versa. Applications are encouraged from writers interested in the poetics of aesthetics, the aesthetics of poetics; event as textual and text as event. Applications from writers of all disciplines, and artists interested in language and writing are encouraged.
The Firstdraft Curators’ Program is an initiative to support emerging practitioners and experimental exhibition-making. Firstdraft Curators’ Program is a core element of Firstdraft programming with three shows annually dedicated to ambitious exhibition by emerging curators.
Proposals for this program are taken twice a year; successful applicants are offered two of Firstdraft’s galleries and a fee to produce an exhibition accompanied by an interpretive text. Firstdraft encourages curators to work with emerging artists for their exhibitions, however also accepts proposals that bring emerging artist’s work into conversation with more established peers. As part of the assessment process, curatorial proposals that are unsuccessful are automatically considered for the exhibition program.
Past participants in the Firstdraft Curators’ Program include Amelia Wallin, Natalya Hughes and Todd McMillan, Georgie Meagher, Vaughan O’Connor, and Isobel Parker Philip.
The Firstdraft Studio Program offers artists a responsive space in which to undertake independent creative inquiry.
Having evolved from a program that fed into the Firstdraft’s core exhibition program, the Firstdraft studios currently support both artists from our exhibition program and artists undertaking projects with no fixed public outcome. Encouraging a range of creative practices, the studio program provides an open space for artists, writers, curators and performers and lays the foundations for a responsive and vital relationship between artists and Firstdraft programs and networks.
Firstdraft have one long-term studio for residencies of up to 6 months; and one short-term responsive studio space available to exhibiting artists, writers-in-residence, and for public use during bi-monthly reading room events.
Centrally located, the studios are a 10 minute walk to Kings Cross train station; a 5 minute walk to Art Gallery of New South Wales; a 10 minute walk to Artspace and a 15 minute bike ride to Redfern. Within a 100 metre radius to Firstdraft there is Flour & Stone Bakery, Toby’s Estate, the East Sydney Hotel, and the Cook and Phillip Park Leisure Facilities.
Image credit: Zan Wimberley
Firstdraft Public Programs run alongside the application-based exhibition program and are focused on critical discourse, performance and collaboration. Consisting of a program of live art and events that engage with critical ideas around creative practice, Firstdraft’s public programs augment the exhibition program and allow the organisation to generate and support innovative cultural practice. A diverse mix of curators, artists, writers, and performers are engaged annually.
Firstdraft has also supported other innovative artist-led initiatives, such as Serial Space and Peloton, with space and funding to realise their own programs after they closed their doors and will continue to support and encourage other leading artist-led initiatives.
Extending across art forms and with a focus on diversity, Firstdraft’s Public Programs engage and support experimental practice and practitioners and work to foster a vibrant arts community and discourse.
firstdraft is now taking proposals for our exhibition and curatorial programs.
In this round of applications we will be programming for the July 2015 – February 2016 exhibition calendar. The following proposal guidelines (including gallery floorplans) formulated to clarify the proposal process to potential applicants. Please ensure that you read the proposal guidelines prior to submitting your