Special Business Rates Program

Special Business Rates (SBR) are collected from businesses in Newcastle City Centre / Darby Street, Hamilton, Mayfield, New Lambton and Wallsend, and are reserved exclusively for the promotion, beautification and development of these business precincts. Annual funding for the most creative and innovative project proposals is distributed through a competitive application process.

Our 2024 Special Business Rates Suburban program opens for application on Monday 27 May (9am) and closes Sunday 23 June (11:59pm).  Applications are invited for the Hamilton and Wallsend business precincts.

To view the boundaries of each of Newcastle's business precincts where SBR rates are collected, click on the Special Business Rate Precinct Maps.

For more information on the eligibility requirements and assessment criteria for SBR funding, please read the SBR Expenditure Policy and the SBR Program Funding Guidelines.

Two online information sessions will be held to provide potential applicants with practical information on the SBR funding round's eligibility criteria, assessment criteria, tips on how to optimise applications and key dates. Details of these information sessions are as follows:

- Tuesday 28 May, 11:00am to 12:00pm.  Register your attendance here

- Thursday 30 May, 5:00pm to 6:00pm.  Register your attendance here

SBR Funded Projects

2023 City / Darby Street SBR Funding projects

Over $900,000 in funding is available this year for the most outstanding projects to develop businesses in Newcastle's city centre or Darby Street. Applications were open from 14 August to 15 September 2023. These 15 projects were successful in receiving funding:

Project Title Organisation Name Funding Amount Project Summary
Kindle Winter Wellbeing Festival

The Rogue Scholar Pty Ltd

$11,625 Winter is marked by a tough shift: shorter days, time indoors and for many, a difficult head space. As the name suggests, Kindle is about warmth, sparking joy and keeping connection alight amongst kin (our community). Held in the first 2 weeks of winter, the Festival unites the community via a calendar of bespoke events co-designed by businesses, artists and wellbeing practitioners with a united goal: to connect and kindle the community in time for the winter season. From music, kids’ discos, light activations, comedy and digital sensory spaces, this all-ages event promotes community well-being and supports local businesses.
West Best Bloc Fest Bandaid Bookings and Festivals Pty Ltd $50,000 West Best Bloc Fest is an annual festival which increases the vibrancy of the city of Newcastle by showcasing over 100 emerging and established musicians local to the region. A venue-to-venue operation with 12 stages acoss 8 venues. This event benefits the wider Newcastle community by creating connections and continuing the legacy of live music in Newcastle through the delivery of a unique recreational activity. WBBF benefits the live music sector by providing opportunities to work/perform. Participating businesses will benefit by highlighting themselves as supporters of live music, increased revenue and the opportunity to showcase their business to a wider demographic.
Chalk the Walk Newcastle

Zest Events International Pty Ltd


Chalk the Walk Newcastle will build on past successes and community interest. A temporary 3D art trail will be created to attract people into the CBD. Watch the artists create a trail of 3D illusions in a live art performance. Visitors explore the trail at their own pace and the community can take part in the Pavement Art Competition and Family Chalking activities.

CTW 2024 would be extended by inviting an International Feature Artist to collaboratively create a major spectacle artwork with the CTW team. We would also create a permanent feature artwork as a project legacy.
Stories in Light

WH!P Collective (Women of the Hunter in Photography)

$25,000 ‘Stories in Light’ is a multi-disciplined collaborative project combining the skills and resources of the WHIP Collective (Women of the Hunter in Photography), Watt Space Gallery and the Newcastle Writers Festival. Drawing on the diverse experiences of over thirty local storytellers, the project will consist of a six-week curated exhibition program (including International Women’s Day and Newcastle Writers Festival) with public art installations, talks and practical workshops celebrating historical and contemporary stories important to our local identity. The project aims to connect with businesses and engage diverse audiences and strengthen Newcastle’s reputation as an important region for arts and cultural expression.
Winter Heat

Fingers Crossed Creative Ltd

$150,000 An annual multi-event, targeted placemaking activation & event program. Programs include numerous installations & activities in the East End of Newcastle. Genuinely targeted at attracting more trade to precinct businesses, both during events & ongoing long-term trade, & also for generating cultural activation leading to higher awareness & more visitation, both local & tourist, to target areas. Using 100% local creative industry practitioners. The project will be developed in ongoing consultation with the City Business Improvement Association, SBR precinct businesses, City of Newcastle & any & all other interested parties.
Devonshire St Laneway Activation Project

Bernie's Bar Newcastle Pty Ltd

$50,000 A set of two events in 2024 centering around the activation of Devonshire Street Laneway, to link into and support events and celebrations important to Newcastle and LGBTQIA+ communities. Each activation will go for 3-4 days and include visual art light projection displays, plus activities unique to each event such as pantomime theatre productions, markets, art exhibitions, and outdoor dining experiences.
Sculptures @ Scratchley Sculptures @ Scratchley $50,000 A free to the public Sculpture Exhibition at Fort Scratchley open to all artists. Art and Cultural activities play a vital role in creating vibrant and thriving communities. Artists are always wanting a venue to display their works and interact with the public. And the public supported the inaugural event in 2023, with over 25,000 people attending.
Procession of Giants

Curious Legends


Procession of Giants will draw families into the center of Newcastle through the production of two large scale, unique events – Luminous Creatures and Whale Song. Spaced 3 months apart, both events will engage the community in a series of fun and inspiring activities in the month prior.

Whale Song is part of a larger tour for our latest work along the East Coast of Australia, where our partner locations will be leveraged to provide promotional opportunities at scale. Luminous Creatures is a celebration of what makes Newcastle THE best City to live. We expect wide-ranging media coverage for both events!
Shakespeare Under the Stars

Whale Chorus Incorporated

$80,000 Whale Chorus will deliver a third season of our summer Shakespeare Under the Stars with the beloved comedy ‘Twelfth Night’ in Newcastle’s iconic Pacific Park. Based on the success of our sold out season in January this year, we are expanding this popular event with a third summer season for local audiences and visitors to enjoy. This event will bring an estimated 3600 visitors to the Newcastle CBD across 12 evenings in December. Audiences will experience their city transformed as we activate the paved water fountain in Pacific Park and transform it into a theatre in the round.
Big Picture Fest

Art Thinking Australia Pty Ltd

$160,000 The Big Picture Fest Newcastle 2024 will invite locals and visitors to watch 4-5 artists paint large-scale murals in real time over 3 days. In its third edition, this free festival program will extend into the East End through an outdoor exhibition in partnership with Iris Capital, a mentor program with The Lock Up gallery and projections on the University’s Q building. Collaborating with local businesses, cultural institutions and other 2022 partners, BPF aims to bring people out on to the streets and leave an ongoing street-art walking trail and long-term legacy exhibition for future visitors.
Newcastle Bar Awards



Newcastle Bar Awards will be an evening of celebration with its purpose being to recognise, support, and elevate the owners, bartenders, mixologists, and brewers who are moving Newcastle’s drink culture forward.

The awards will run in conjunction with a program of consumer events, hosted by Newcastle venues its lead up, together with People’s Choice Awards that will ask the community to vote for their favourite bar.

The results will include recognition of the diversity and depth of talent within the Newcastle bar industry, along with increased foot traffic to venues via the series of events and People’s Choice Award.
Reasons to visit Hunter Street Mall and Eastend Village

Saute Simmer, Trading as Ka-fey cafe

$60,000 per year over
2 years

We seek funding to boost EVERY local business in Hunter Street Mall through a multi-faceted approach. Our plan includes:

1) Promotional Materials

2) Loyalty Voucher Cards

3) Events

Newcastle Food Month

Maher Initiatives t/as Newcastle Events

$60,000 Newcastle Food Month (NFM) originated in 2021 with the generous support of CN. NFM provides an event framework for Newcastle cafe/restaurant/hotel food events to encourage Novocastrians to dine out and visitors to stay overnight, attending food related events in April 2024. NFM provides structure, marketing, and promotion. The program is then marketed to the greater Newcastle area and beyond, bringing diners principally into the City/Darby St precinct. The program 'platform' provides businesses the opportunity to participate in the entry level Plate Date- $25/30tbc for a special meal and a beverage, or more significant events, pairing eg music with food.
City of Newcastle Activation Project

Newcastle Tourism Industry Group Inc.


Newcastle Tourism Industry Group (NTIG) is the unified voice for the local tourism industry. The City of Newcastle activation project is designed to leverage off significant major events at MacDonald Jones Stadium that come to the city ensuring the economic benefit is spread beyond the hero event, be it a show, sporting event or festival.

The funding will activate and showcase local business creating an excitement and energy that ensures locals and visitors alike have an enhanced experience that involves preshow specials, after party drinks, theming and branding that builds hype and showcases the City of Newcastle as a cohesive major event destination.
Reactivation of 'Live Spots 2023 / 2024'

Gabriel John Argiris

$12,500 This application is a proposal to reactivate the previously successful ‘Live Spots’, put forward by City of Newcastle’s BIAs in August 2020. ‘Live Spots’ engaged with local businesses and was a part of the Special Business Rates Program. This activation engaged with 66 shows across multiple businesses within the Special Business Precinct. Activating spaces other than live music venues and pubs with the restrictive ‘night time’ time slot, ‘Live Spots’ was a successor for both musicians and local businesses such as cafes, restaurants and galleries.

2023 Suburban Funding Round Projects

The Wallsend, Hamilton and New Lambton precincts each have a $50,000 budget in 2023-24 for their contestable funding rounds. Expressions of Interest were open for applications from Wednesday 26 April until Friday 19 May 2023. The following 7 projects were successful in receiving funding:

Project Title Organisation Name Funding Amount Project Summary
Newcastle Fringe 2024 - Hamilton Precinct Newcastle Fringe Festival Inc $25,000

The success of the 2023 Hamilton Fringe Festival Precinct will be recreated and expanded. The 2023 Festival was attended by over 5,200 people. In 2024, we aim to build attendance to over 6,000, ensuring the majority of the festival occurs in Hamilton.
We will build a street festival atmosphere along Beaumont Street by:

  • increasing the number of venues and shows in Hamilton,
  • erecting more street signage,
  • creating free performances in James St Plaza,
  • promoting the Pop-Up Ticket Box Office
  • hosting roving street performers
  • collaborating with Hello Hamilton, local venues and Newcastle Pride
Hamilton-Newcastle Pride Week 2023 Newcastle Pride Inc. $25,000 The project is a week of LGBTIQA+ community friendly focused events aimed to delight and entertain the main Hamilton community Precinct. Newcastle Pride Inc. have developed a format of diverse entertainment including free and ticketed events. The project incorporates daytime and evening events for all ages, including family friendly and youth events, ‘Roving Real Queens of Hamilton’, Drag Bingo, Cocktails and a Dance Party and many much more! It is an opportunity for City of Newcastle to support an exciting celebration, connect LGBTIQA+ community to vibrant Hamilton, and form strong links with the whole precinct for future partnerships and events.
Little Festival New Lambton The Wall Station $30,000

Little Festival is a scale-able, vibrant and whimsical street art festival walking trail which provides the locals, visitors and business communites with live street art painting on temporary and permanent structures, miniature installations, sculptures, stencils, chalk artworks, paste ups, yarn bombs, repurposed found objects, workshops, pop-up exhibitions and activations throughout the New Lambton shopping precinct.

Featuring 10 local artists, installing dozens of artworks along Alma Road and Regent Streets, Little Festival will be supported by a full scale promotional campaign to bring new visitors and our existing festival audience to New Lambton for a free and fun family event day.

Voices of Joan Whale Chorus Inc. $20,000 'Voices of Joan' is part of a cultural and creative program which will activate the New Lambton precinct across the New Annual festival period from September 22nd-October 3rd 2023. Whale Chorus together with Art Thinking will deliver a multi-day cultural and creative program with public performances and a creative panel designed to connect artists with local business owners and audiences in the New Lambton precinct. With a focus on the voices of women and gender diverse artists, this program will connect communities, celebrate stories and inspire social change through art and creative monologue.
Wallsend Op Shop Trail Purple Card Project $22,851

After a successful inaugural year of the Wallsend Op Shop Trail, this project will continue to work in collaboration with the five op shops of Nelson Street to bring life back into weekends in Wallsend by establishing and maintaining the Wallsend Op Shop Trail as a key tourist destination.

This project will continue to promote the Trail, encourage visitation to the Wallsend Business Precinct, help the charitable op shops attract new volunteers, and will include a series of events that will promote the Trail and the benefits of op shops, as well as providing environmental education about textile waste.

Streets Alive Wallsend!

Fingers Crossed Creative $10,000

Streets Alive Wallsend! a series of 3 all inclusive 2 hour pop-up events for the local community. Providing entertainment and activities that encourage audiences to inhabit their public spaces with a sense of play, wonder and connection.

Our choice of location is based on proximity to local businesses ensuring what we offer is complementary to them.

UP&UP Inspirations ArtScape Community Festival UP&UP Inspirations $14,500 UP&UP Inspirations will transform Wallsend Skate Park into a vibrant hub of creativity, catering to youth and families. Join us for an exciting event featuring an array of activities such as street art workshops, DJs, live music performances, and live street art painting exhibitions. Discover the secrets behind mural creation using spray paint by engaging with street artists or even trying it out yourself. With activities suitable for all ages and abilities, this event guarantees something special for everyone.

2022 City / Darby Street SBR Funding projects

Between 22 August and 16 September 2022, applications were open for Special Business Rate funding for clever, innovative ideas to promote and develop businesses in the City Centre and Darby Street area. The following 17 projects were successful in receiving funding:

Project Title Organisation Name Funding Amount  Project Summary
Voyage: A New Kind of Storytelling Helen Hopcroft $11,480

Voyage is a live music, spoken word and contemporary dance event that will form part of the 2023 Newcastle Writers Festival program. Across two nights, a diverse range of musicians, performance poets and dancers will explore 'a new kind of storytelling' at Newcastle Library and Playstate Curate.

Acts will include The Majishans, singer/songwriter Kay Proudlove, Catapult Dance, visual artists and a number of local performance poets and spoken word artists. By providing evening entertainment and moving hundreds of NWF patrons towards Darby Street and along Hunter Street, Voyage will benefit the night-time economy of these precincts.

Newcastle Food Month Maher Initiatives t/as Newcastle Events $90,000

Newcastle Food Month (NFM) originated in 2021 with the generous support of City of Newcastle. NFM provides an event framework around which Newcastle cafes / restaurants / hotels and food events can encourage Novocastrians and visitors to dine out and attend food related events in April 2023.

NFM provides structure, marketing and promotion. The program is then marketed to the greater Newcastle area and beyond, bringing diners into the City/Darby St precinct. The program 'platform' provides businesses the opportunity to participate in the entry level Plate Date- $25 for a special meal and a beverage, or more significant events, pairing food with music.

Create Your Place UP&UP Inspirations $30,000 UP&UP Inspirations will activate Museum Park for 2 days with a family friendly event that celebrates street art. There will be loads of creative activities, including street art workshops for beginners, master classes, DJs, live music performances, and live painting exhibitions. If you have ever wondered how people create murals with spray paint – come along and chat to a street artist, or even better, have a go yourself. There are activities suitable for everyone, all ages and abilities!
Thriving Gardens > Thriving Community > Thriving Business Herb Urban PTY LTD $48,300 To continue our project of reinvigorating the CBD with veins of living greenery and edible plants that are IoT integrated, data-collecting pieces of sustainable infrastructure, a symbol of innovation and CN's commitment to its future goals. Our project involves the installation of standalone smart gardening systems (fixed to shopfront facades and portable kerbside gardens) throughout the CBD & Darby Street; Hunter Street (Pacific Park to Darby/Hunter Street intersection) and Darby Street. Our overall goal is to connect Newcastle with veins of greenery throughout Hamilton, New Lambton and the City.
West Walk Independent Galleries Newcastle $25,890 An exciting food, art and wine trail through Newcastle’s West! The trail is a progressive catered degustation to occur four times (every three months over a year), with live music and of course an amazing art exhibition at each gallery from Blackstone, Playstate, LEDA and Wester. We hope to activate arts and culture for our community, tourists, and people visiting the harbour. West Walk will create cross-pollination for local industries, such as independent caterers, small batch brewers, winemakers and local musicians. Let’s activate art and culture in the West End!
Sustainability Showcase Precinct Go Circular Inc $76,000 Creating a showcase ‘sustainability precinct’ - reflecting a collaborative effort among operators of restaurants, cafés and other shops - will attract customers and urban eco-tourists, reduce businesses’ operating costs, lower their environmental impacts, attract much needed staff, and demonstrate the City’s leadership in fostering sustainability. Our team – Go Circular and MRA Consulting – will conduct audits of inputs and waste of food and other materials, energy and water; identify opportunities for savings; methodically foster collaborative relationships among operators; and facilitate joint purchasing agreements of electricity, waste services or goods with a low carbon footprint.
EASLE'D Sweet Media $85,977

100 artists are taking to the streets of Newcastle’s CBD and Darby St, bringing broad brushstrokes of brilliance to portable walls, businesses and outdoor spaces throughout the city as part of a month-long live painting festival, EASEL’D.

In partnership with 20+ Newcastle CBD and Darby St businesses, artists will be painting live on easels, over four consecutive weekends - in the open air and inside Newcastle CBD’s diverse mix of cafes, shopfronts, pubs, galleries and outdoor spaces. Get ready for a stellar lineup of artists’ workshops, masterclasses, host talks, guided tours and an artists’ trail.

Story Spots Sketch It Live $23,815

Story Spots are bite-sized animated videos that shine a light on the stories behind 12 unique businesses, events or precincts within the CBD and Darby Street zones. These videos will serve to attract new visitors as well as lapsed locals to these establishments.

Story Spots are a celebration of the local characters who contribute to the lively culture of Newcastle. These videos will be launched at a live event at the Lovett Gallery. We envisage these videos being screened at the Newcastle Tourist Information Centre, the Digital Library, the CN app as well as participants' social media platforms.

WE ARE WH!P - Women in the Hunter in Photography $12,500

WH!P - Women of the Hunter in Photography have developed a concept to share portraiture and stories of local women with our community, utilising storytelling through photographic portraiture and personal narratives that celebrate the creative and career journeys our local women have untaken in their life.

These portraits and narratives will be displayed for International Women's Day (IWD) in 2023 (March 8). We will hold a photographic exhibition and opening/launch for IWD, as well as work alongside local businesses and City of Newcastle to promote, share and celebrate this photographic cultural initiative in varied and innovative ways.

Taste of Australia with Hayden Quinn - Newcastle Edition Boomtown Pictures Pty Ltd $50,000 Taste of Australia with Hayden Quinn is a travel and food TV show that has now run on Channel 10 for six seasons. The proposal for funding is to create a feature episode for our upcoming season that focuses on Newcastle and the City Centre/Darby Street precinct. The episode would feature Reece Hignell (who owns and operates "Cakeboi" in Newcastle) as Hayden's guide to his favourite Newcastle food and other destinations. The episode would air multiple times on Channel 10 in 2023 and should also be screened internationally through our distribution partners.
Newcastle Gin Event 2023 The Gin Event $19,720

The Gin Event will bring together gin distilleries, food vendors and entertainers with locals and visitors from around NSW for the appreciation of gin at the Newcastle Museum Park. Gin lovers will get a taste of new gin and liqueurs, food and be entertained in a great historical Newcastle location, creating positive promotional exposure. Local distilleries will showcase and sell their products to attendees, promoting their businesses, contributing to the creative and culturally rich community.

The Gin Event will make Newcastle a premier tourist destination, increasing visitation and spending on the weekend, while supporting local hospitality businesses and employment.
Darby Street Magazine Pepper Publishing Pty Ltd T/A Newcastle Weekly $47,605

The Newcastle Weekly (NW) will create three six-page special feature sections in its publication, promoting all things Darby Street. This will be inserted into the December 2022 – March 2023 editions of the NW and uplifted via all NW digital channels. NW boasts a monthly reach over 150,000, across print and digital.

The editions will feature local businesses, people, events and CN SRB projects (past and present) promoting the vibrancy and diversity of Darby Street.
Summer Shakespeare in Civic Park Whale Chorus Incorporated $41,222 Whale Chorus will deliver a second season of outdoor Summer Shakespeare in Civic park and bring an estimated 2000 visitors to the Newcastle CBD for an enriching cultural event. Building on the success and learnings of the January 2023 season, Whale Chorus will grow this event by extending the performance season, reaching a wider audience base, professionally engaging local artists and expanding the event to include preshow festivities and games. Audiences will come alive as they experience the wild and passionate world of Shakespeare, whilst enjoying nature and community connection in our iconic Civic Park.
Chalk the Walk Newcastle 2023 Zest Events International Pty Ltd $81,953 Chalk the Walk Newcastle will build on the success and community interest generated during the last 2 events. A temporary 3D art trail will be created in key outdoor locations, designed to attract people into the city centre. Watch the artists at work as they step out of the studio onto the streets and create a trail of awe-inspiring 3D illusions in a mind-bending live art performance. Visitors can explore the trail at their own pace and pleasure. CTW 2023 would be extended with a Local Artist Showcase and Walking-the-Chalk Art Tour involving local performing artists and photographers.
West Best Bloc Fest Bandaid Bookings and Festivals Pty Ltd $35,000

An annual block festival curated to showcase 70+ emerging and established musicians in the Newcastle scene. This event will be spread across supporting venues around our local West End block.

This event serves multiple purposes and benefits to the community in both activating the area as a live music entertainment district and to remind the local community that the Newcastle music scene is far from dead. This event will increase the vibrancy of the precinct by engaging patrons in an interesting way which will lead to increased visitation in the area.
Newy Car Club SBR Events Newy Car Club $30,000

Newy Car Club will host 3 events leading in to the V8 Supercar weekend in March 2023. These three events will engage the Newy Car Community and engage businesses within the SBR City Centre area.

These events will increase community and business interest around the V8 Supercars. These events will allow businesses to promote and entice the community, along with our members, to visit their establishments to stimulate spending.

Marketing of Events - EASLE'D and West Best Bloc Fest Swell Magazine $22,000 Swell Magazine is a beautiful, locally produced publication, designed to showcase the best that Newcastle and its surroundings has to offer. Swell also holds a highly engaged, growing online community @swell.mag. This project will use all Swell channels – print, social media and digital to offer promotion of local events as a key strategy to drive visitation into Newcastle City and Darby Street. Swell will also work in collaboration with the Makers x Traders of Newcastle and event organisers such as Jacinta Fintan (owner of The Wall Station) to promote local events and engage the community.


2022 Wallsend, Hamilton and New Lambton SBR projects

In May and June 2022, the City of Newcastle's SBR assessment panel met to deliberate on over 20 high-quality applications for the precincts of Wallsend, Hamilton and New Lambton. The following ten applicants were successful in receiving funding, and are already bringing more vibrancy to these precincts:

Project Title Organisation Name Funding Amount Project Summary
Wallsend Op Shop Trail Purple Card Project Pty Ltd $17,637

The project is working in collaboration with Wallsend Town
Business Association, Samaritans, and the other four Op Shops of Nelson Street to bring life back into weekends in Wallsend by establishing the Wallsend Op Shop Trail.


This will be achieved this with events, activations and a
community engagement strategy to address the lack of
volunteer support in the Op Shops, and shift the focus of volunteering to create a more diverse cohort of volunteers. Increased volunteer support will allow stores to open Saturdays, attracting new clientele to the region. Interactive events each month will further include and engage the community.

And Then, They Were No Longer Invisible A Socially Minded Photography Agency $10,000

This socially-engaged, community storytelling project culminates in large-format images being pasted up in the Wallsend Business Precinct.


'And Then, They are No Longer Invisible - Wallsend' is a
photo-storytelling project that honours the seniors in our
communities. Through the sharing of their stories, we collectively create space for new narratives around aging, isolation and ageism. The project includes community workshops, local business engagement and a community art installation throughout the Wallsend Business Precinct that encourages social cohesion and visitation to the local area.

Banner Art Rebecca Murray $10,000 This project will liaise with local primary schools for the painting of images on 20 x 20 cm boards. 240 images would be chosen to be enlarged and copied onto 80x200cm flags for display on various sites in the Wallsend business precinct.
Wallsend Frights Curious Legends $20,000

A series of Halloween themed activations to engage the public and draw foot traffic to the Wallsend business precinct. This will include two days of roving performances, trick or treating in
resident businesses, and a costume making challenge that
centres on local op shops & craft stores.


The program will then culminate in a larger-scale family event in Wallsend (possibly the the Village carpark), including installations, performances, interactive activities and workshops with community groups and Wallsend businesses. Collateral will be circulated promoting local business in association with the events and activities.

Public Mural Wallsend Playstate Studio $20,000

Involving 2-3 established mural artists within the Newcastle/Port Stephens area, this project will design and create a mural that benefits the appearance of the main street of Wallsend and the businesses that reside there.

Introducing a mural to that main hub will lift the overall beautification and energy to the area.

New Lambton Library Community Mural UP&UP Inspirations $14,850 The project will design and install a mural on the exterior wall of New Lambton Library. The New Lambton Library Community Mural will be true placemaking. It will be a mural that comes from the ideas and inspiration of the New Lambton community – people who live, work, play and/or go to school in the area.
Thriving Gardens> Thriving Community> Thriving Business: New Lambton Herb Urban $36,200

This project aims to reinvigorate New Lambton with veins of
living greenery and edible plants that are IoT integrated, data-collecting pieces of sustainable infrastructure, a symbol of innovation and Newcastle’s commitment to its 2030 goals.


The project involves the installation of standalone smart
gardening systems (fixed to shopfront facades) throughout New Lambton. Our overall goal is to connect Newcastle with veins of greenery throughout Wallsend, Hamilton, New Lambton and
the City.

Beautiful Beaumont Doors Jacinta Fintan $8,000 Six local female artists will beautify and transform six graffitied doorways in between shops along Beaumont Street. The size and budget of this project are scaleable depending on funding available.
Thriving Gardens> Thriving Community> Thriving Business: Hamilton Herb Urban $19,900

This project aims to reinvigorate Hamilton with veins of
living greenery and edible plants that are IoT integrated, data-collecting pieces of sustainable infrastructure, a symbol of innovation and Newcastle’s commitment to its 2030 goals.


The project involves the installation of standalone smart
gardening systems (fixed to shopfront facades) throughout Hamilton. Our overall goal is to connect Newcastle with veins of greenery throughout Wallsend, Hamilton, New Lambton and the City.

Newcastle Fringe Festival - Hamilton Rebecca Fitzgibbons $15,000

Newcastle Fringe will establish a dedicated performance precinct in Hamilton for their 2023 Festival which occurs over 2 weekends in March. It will build on the Festival's existing presence in Beaumont Street by expanding the number of shows, creating a family-friendly component, creating street signage/digital art, and staging micro-performances in local businesses.


The aim is to consolidate relationships with local businesses; activate Beaumont Street; increase patronage and foot traffic. This will provide income for local businesses, employment and promotion for Fringe artists; and generate unique online content for cultural tourism.

2021-22 City / Darby Street SBR Projects

The City of Newcastle provided a funding pool of almost $800,000 in 2021-22, awarded through a competitive application round to projects with the most effective, creative and innovative ideas to boost local businesses. The following 20 projects have assisted in creating a buzz in our city:

Project name Organiser Amount received Project Summary
Beautification of Wolfe Street Telstra Telephone Exchange Building Herb Urban $15,000

The proposed installation site is in a laneway in Iris Capital's new East End development between Wolfe and Perkins Streets. The proposed laneway is a main entrance point to the piazza, giving this entrance a facelift with a Herb Urban installation will uplift
the entire experience when visiting the piazza.

We will create a beautiful garden which enhances the area,
deters graffiti, encourages visitors and benefits businesses.
Sound Station Music & Arts Festival - Custom App Newcastle Live Music Taskforce $5,000 Sound Station Music & Arts Festival is the first event of its kind designed to showcase and celebrate the past 5 decades of
local live music. It is a free, all-ages event to be held at
The Station on Sunday 28 August with the aim of creating measurable community support for the local live music industry. This additional funding would allow us to have superior app technology that would further provide opportunities for local businesses to be promoted alongside our event.
Darby Street Party Canvas Events PR Marketing Co Pty Ltd $35,000

The Darby Street Party (scheduled for 15 October) will provide an exciting new platform for a street celebration for both industry
and community. This event will engage and promote all business
in Darby Street as well as provide further opportunity for
businesses through extended trading hours. The celebration will provide risk free opportunity for businesses to diversify product offerings. The event build will include a street stage with musical performers and entertainers as well as roving artists and theming.

The event will have significant impact on the business sector and creative industry, and will position Newcastle as a contemporary and creative city on the rise.

Summer Shakespeare in the Park Jane Gibson $22,000

Shakespeare in the Park will present weekend performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Civic Park across the 2022 summer season. It will feature an ensemble of local performers, to stage a wild, irreverent and magical performance.

This performance will offer a meaningful cultural experience for Newcastle audiences and be the first step in creating a new ensemble theatre company in Newcastle. Local businesses will be supported through "Dine & Show" ticketing options.
Thriving Gardens > Thriving Community > Thriving Business Herb Urban Pty Limited $30,000 This project will reinvigorate Darby Street shopfronts with veins of living greenery and edible plants that are data-collecting pieces of sustainable infrastructure, a symbol of innovation, and a reflection of Newcastle’s commitment to its climate action goals. Our project involves installation of standalone smart gardening systems (fixed to shopfront facades and portable kerbside gardens) throughout Darby Street.
Makers & Traders Newcastle Year 3 (MTNY3) Makers and Traders Newcastle $70,000

Makers and Traders Newcastle was formed in 2019 to showcase a growing group of local creative businesses across the Newcastle inner city. Our goal was to support and strengthen collaboration between businesses and encourage lapsed locals to return to the city.

This project builds on our previous success, with the aim of continuing to foster the community’s capacity to deliver unique visitor and retail experiences in Newcastle. The third iteration of the Newcastle Treasure Map (2022), a printed guide to discovering the MTN network, will continue to help position Newcastle as the Smart Creative City of Australia.

Small Walls - Graffiti Prevention Program The Wall Station (Trading as Sweet Media) $50,000 This project will help prevent tagging and graffiti on business properties who face ongoing vandalism, by installing murals by local artists. Small Walls aims to benefit businesses directly by beautifying graffitied walls with mural art, activating spaces and deterring vandalism. Community groups will be engaged to work with the artists, to help build local capacity and share skills.
Small Walls - Graffiti Prevention Program (Extension) The Wall Station (Trading as Sweet Media) $10,000 To expand the current Small Walls program to include 2 - 3 additional murals (dependant on size of the walls) to help precinct beautification and support local business development.
The Big Picture Fest Newcastle 2022 Big Picture Fest $150,000 The Big Picture Fest will return to Newcastle for its second year in 2022! Locals and visitors will watch a number of large scale murals painted live in-person or online in a free community event within the city centre. The project will support local businesses through collaborative promotions and increased local and tourism foot traffic during the event and into the future. It will beautify the city creating vibrant, safe and active public places and business hubs through placemaking.
Special Newcastle City edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine HSR Publishing Pty Ltd $59,894 With the goal of driving visitation from outside the region, this project will create a special edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine to showcase everything the Newcastle City Centre and Darby Street precincts have to offer. With a print run of 30,000 copies to be distributed for free in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne, coverage will include hospitality, retail, events and culture, as well as outdoors & adventure. It will highlight the Newcastle city centre as a must-visit destination.
Create Your Place UP&UP Inspirations $34,485 UP&UP Inspirations will activate the city for two days with a series of street art workshops and live painting exhibitions. The workshops are open to the public and will encourage all members of the community to participate by registering for an activity. The workshops will be suitable for young people, families, older people, people with disabilities – everyone!
Her Productions Local Theatre Premiere Event Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub $20,000 Her Productions is a new Newcastle based production company, run by women with the intention to create equal opportunities for female identifying individuals in the performing and creative arts industry. Her Production's Premiere Event, which will launch the company, will be a contemporary adaptation of Chekhov's classic play, 'Uncle Vanya'. No less than 50% of creatives & crew are female and our cast is evenly gendered, so that we can provide fair and equal work experience and opportunities for women here in Newcastle.
Sci Fi Spectacular Inner City Activation Series Fingers Crossed Creative LTD. $70,000 This will be a six-show multi-faceted micro-festival activation within a local venue including different elements: a full production presentation of the Sci Fi Spectacular show with a ticketed audience; a “Laneway Party” feel activation with entertainment (eg. chill DJ + roving entertainment) + “street food” dining experience with a range of foods offered by local businesses; and a sideshow / interactive zone.
Music People - precinct activation project Field Frequency $64,400 Music People is an innovative and collaborative live music TV show which, through a successful first season, unified physical and digital communities in Newcastle and supported a healthy entertainment industry. This season will produce three episodes, in collaboration with local businesses and other projects that are activating the precinct.
Newcastle West Street Party Vexel Creations $12,000 Based at the Midtown precinct, the Newcastle West Street Party will occur on a Sunday afternoon from 12-9pm that welcomes food and retail vendors and buskers, dance performances and workshops, live pottery & tutorial, live art performance and live music. A creative hub of celebration, in a safe and inclusive manner!
Stomping Ground The Y Pty Ltd $30,000 Stomping Ground will be a series of music & art fusion gigs carried out across a range of venues throughout the Newcastle city centre. There will be diverse performers at events, which will include art displays in venues.
Gateway to Darby Street Precinct Mural Jordan Lucky $9,500 This public art project will create a large scale modern, vibrant and engaging mural highlighting local Australian flora and fauna at the bar beach end of Darby street (39 Tooke Street). This mural will be a highlight of the area and will encourage positivity, foot traffic in the Darby street precinct, and act as a graffiti prevention method. The wall is in prime roadside space facing towards Bar Beach and Parkway Avenue roundabout which for many is an entry point to Darby Street and our city.
Mad Bitches Inc. Helen Hopcroft $19,993 Mad Bitches Inc. is a female-fronted, multidisciplinary cabaret show that premiered at Newcastle Fringe in March 2021. The show enjoyed a sell-out season at the Royal Exchange Salon Theatre, and was nominated for the Festival's Best Show Award, with cast member Sophie Cook winning the award for Best Performance by an Individual Artist. Mad Bitches Inc. then toured to Dubbo Fringe, where it again was nominated for the Best Show award. It is now planned to bring the production to the New Annual Festival in 2022, and to support local businesses through "Dine & Show" ticketing options.
Chalk the Walk Newcastle Zest Events International Pty Ltd $45,000 Chalk the Walk Newcastle will build on the success and community interest in the February 2021 event. A temporary 3D art trail will be created in key outdoor locations, designed to attract people into the city centre. Visitors can watch the artists work, interact with the artworks, and share their photos across social and personal networks.
Newcastle Food Month 2022 Maher Initiatives t/as Newcastle Events $80,000 Newcastle Food Month originated in 2021 with the generous support of City of Newcastle. It provides an event framework around which Newcastle cafes, restaurants, hotels and food events can encourage Novocastrians to dine out and attend food-related events in April 2022. It will provide structure, marketing and promotion. The program is then marketed to the greater Newcastle area and beyond, bringing diners into the City and Darby Street precinct. The program 'platform' provides businesses the opportunity to participate in different food-related promotions and events.

2021 Hamilton SBR Projects

In April 2021, expressions of interest were sought for projects aimed at the promotion, beautification and development of the Hamilton business precinct.

In May 2021 the City of Newcastle’s SBR Assessment Panel (consisting of elected Councillors and a representative from the Hamilton Business Association) assessed 10 project applications. After much deliberation, the Panel approved funding for 4 projects totalling $50,662. All the successful applications were selected for their targeted focus on developing and promoting local businesses and activating Beaumont Street and the neighbouring businesses. The successful projects for 2021 were:

Organisation Name Project Title Funding Amount Project Summary
Curious Legends Curious Creatures $16,662 A mini-festival of afternoon and evening cultural activations in Hamilton's Gregson Park, tentatively planned for November 2021. There will be a program of local artists, musicians, light installations and puppeteers to activate the park as a community meeting place and showcase it as a welcoming, multi-use, family-friendly space. The community are invited to participate in free workshops at Hudson Street Hum prior, and to get involved with performance opportunities. Curious Legends' flagship large scale, illuminated puppetry performances, will be performed for visitors in the evening.
UP&UP Inspirations Hamilton Hive Interactive Mural $14,000

This project will design and paint an interactive mural on the exterior wall of the Community Hive building on Beaumont Street, Hamilton. The mural will make the space more vibrant and welcoming, encouraging people to visit the Hamilton precinct, and increasing foot traffic for businesses.

Paul Maher Walk With Us $10,000

This project will replace a number of existing mosaics with safe, level, slip resistant installations suitable for insertion in a high foot traffic area.These will beautify the Beaumont Street footpath, honour the suburb's social and entrepreneurial history, encourage engagement with local businesses and celebrate our shared cultural heritage and history. The project will work with emerging ceramic artists from TAFE-Hamilton, Hudson Street Hum and local businesses to recreate historical Beaumont Street in colourful art designed for longevity and authenticity, thereby creating an attractive liveable built environment.

Ali Sobel-Read Hamilton Garden Tile Mural $10,000 The acclaimed ceramic artist Ali Sobel-Read will install a brightly-coloured silk-screen printed tile mural outside the Kent Hotel in Cleary Street, to celebrate the iconic Gregson Park. People of all ages and backgrounds will see their cherished landmark reflected in this public artwork gracing the neighbourhood, and this will evoke a sense of pride and belonging.

2020 Newcastle City Centre / Darby Street SBR Funding released

This inaugural The Big Picture Fest was supported through our Special Business Rate. program - we love the amazing creations the artists have left for our City to enjoy.

In the second half of 2020, expressions of interest were sought for projects aimed at the promotion, beautification and development of the City Centre / Darby Street precinct. Categories of focus were industry / business development, place activation / events, beautification / infrastructure development and promotion.

In September 2020 the City of Newcastle’s SBR Selection Panel assessed 31 project applications. After much deliberation, the Panel approved funding for 15 projects for the Newcastle City and Darby Street precinct totaling $934,293. All the successful applications were selected for their targeted focus on developing and promoting local businesses and activating Newcastle’s city centre. The successful projects for 2020 are:

Organisation Name Project Title Funding Amount Project Summary
Newcastle City BIA Live Spots $42,000 A city-wide initiative to establish live music ‘spots’, creating ambiance and passer-by entertainment for business precincts, while helping to create opportunity for income and promotion for local musicians.
Catapult Dance Chorepgraphic Hub Creative Newcastle $122,800 An ambitious project to bolster Newcastle’s arts, business and night-time economy sector, through digital development, data collation, promotion and events. The project will include a multi-arts program of events, a National Arts Industry Conference in late 2021, a digital platform and arts industry directory, and an evaluation and research framework.
University of Newcastle City Lights for Social Change $87,280 This will build a permanent lighting infrastructure for Civic Park, creating a spectacular lightscape to attract people to walk from and through Hunter and King Street, Civic Park to Darby Street. The project aims to help build a safe and vibrant night-time economy, increase tourism, promote public safety and provide global coverage for local activisms and campaigns, with the flagship campaign being 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women from November 25 to December 10 2020.
Adventure for Life Discover Newcastle Mobile Adventures $5,000 Discover Newcastle Mobile Adventure is a digital App-based treasure hunt game designed to bring families, tourists, school and social groups into the city centre and promote foot traffic to different landmarks and highlights of the city's business precinct.
Curious Legends Made In Newcastle $90,000 A city-wide undertaking in collaboration with local businesses, regional tourism, and Newcastle's vibrant arts community to run a series of events over many months in 2020 - 2021. Newcastle Council's mobile app will be utilised for this project, with particular emphasis on the 'walking tours' functionality.
Newcastle Events Newcastle Food Month $65,000 This exciting month-long project aims to promote and cultivate what makes Newcastle and the surrounding precincts a gastronomic playground. The festival will offer a line-up of one-off dining experiences that rejoices Newcastle City and Darby Street’s eclectic dining scene, and will target the attraction of both locals and visitors is set to attract both locals and visitors alike.
HUNTERhunter Newcastle Food Month Marketing Campaign by HUNTERhunter $40,000 The local marketing company HUNTERhunter will work together with the Newcastle Food Month to undertake a 3-month multi-faceted digital and traditional media campaign (February - April 2021) to promote the Newcastle Food Month Festival in its lead-up and during the month-long festival period.
Makers and Traders Makers & Traders Newcastle $148,776 The newly created Makers and Traders "Project 360" digital interface will use virtual tours and podcasts in order to enable visitors and locals to assess Newcastle's creative experience, and to encourage bookings, sales and connection. The opportunity for 'click and buy' for businesses with a supporting checkout in their website will also be integrated. Further, the revised and beautifully designed Treasure Map will make the navigation of creative opportunities and experiences easier for visitors and locals alike.
Heritage Now Archaeology Alive Walking Tour $24,920 The Archaeology Alive walking tour will showcase archaeological excavations which have been undertaken in the Newcastle and Darby Street SBR area, and delivered through the City of Newcastle App. It will present Indigenous and non-Indigenous history in an accessible format, create community engagement and increase foot traffic in the precinct.
UP&UP UP&UP Street Art Workshops - Create Your Space $25,200 This initiative will activate Wheeler Place with a series of interactive street art workshops and live painting exhibitions during the New Annual Festival in February 2021. The workshops will be open to the public, and will encourage all members of the community to participate and visit the city centre during the Arts and Cultural Festival period.
Enigma Christmas in the City $75,322 This project will activate spaces in the City Centre and Darby St, with the aim of attracting people to the areas prior to Christmas and encourage people to spend at local businesses. Civic Park will be activated for ten days with a life-sized maze made from christmas trees. Additionally, two sites in the city (tentatively Hunter Street Mall and Darby Street) will have free Santa photos set up for five days each. Special business offers will also be promoted at the activations.
Newcastle Parkour The Little Green $20,000 The Little Green project will be a celebration of nature, music, giving and community. In the form of a space-making installation in the hunter street mall area, "The Little Green" will consist of planters, a community notice board, plant sharing, bike parking, cafe seating and a small platform to serve as a stage for a musician.
Zest Events International Chalk The Walk, Newcastle $57,695 This project will see a temporary 3D artwork trail installed in key outdoor locations in the City Centre and Darby Street. The artworks would be designed to attract people to the city centre to watch the artists at work, interact with the artwork, have their photos taken and share photos across their social and personal networks. The activation would be held over 5 days in February 2021 and will feature professional chalk artists from Newcastle and the Central Coast.
Screen Hunter "Created in Newcastle" by The Real Film Festival 2020 $41,500 "Created in Newcastle" by the Real Film Festival will deliver new ways of reconnecting film, arts and culture across city precinct businesses that will help strengthen the Newcastle business sector through digital development, online presence and marketing of SBR businesses, through the delivery of business development workshops and the delivery of mentorships to businesses in the city precinct to assist in invigorating their businesses.
Newcastle Style Sessions Open House Newcastle $88,800 Open House Newcastle, to be located at the old Newcastle Station, is an immersive installation, inviting you to walk through the spaces that have been entirely created by, and using local retailer products. It aims to turn the spotlight on Newcastle’s design industry and re-inforces the sense of renewal that is happening in Newcastle with a new dawn of design.

In 2019, 15 events and promotions shared in more than $820,000 in funding. In June 2020, CN convened an Ideas Exchange to share learnings and recommendations from the successful funding recipients. A brief synopsis of each successful project is available at the following (PDF). SBR funding for the suburban precincts of Hamilton / New Lambton / Wallsend were completed in early 2019.

As a result of the Ideas Exchange, updates have been made to the 2020 SBR Guidelines aimed at encouraging project collaboration and sustainability.