Client: Metro Arts

Metro Arts is an independent arts organization whose focus is developing and co-presenting contemporary arts.

In 2020 they sold the building they had been occupying for 40 years in the heart of Brisbane and moved to West Village in Brisbane’s West End.  The new space included a 117 seat theatre,  two art galleries, rehearsal spaces and an office for the Metro Arts staff.

Setting Up Shop were engaged as the client-side project manager for the relocation project.  We started on the project in October 2019 as the lease negotiations with Sekisui House for a space in West Village were being finalized, and a concept design for the different spaces to be built already in place.

Challenge: program, procurement, and Covid
Solution: trust and communication

Time frames were tight as the new spaces would be used for the Brisbane Festival in September 2020, which had a fixed start date with artists booked in.  Half of the space would not be available until at least May 2020 as demolition and remedial works in a heritage listed building were being carried out until then.

We couldn't carry out a traditional tender as we wouldn't have sufficient documentation in time.  Some initial pricing had been done by Hutchinsons, who were looking after the base build works for West Village, but at that point the design hadn't been finalised so the pricing couldn't be very robust.  We also had some costs from theatre consultants and some cost planning.

The first thing we needed to do was lock in a budget, so Setting Up Shop reviewed all of the information on hand and realised that the numbers that were being used in the calculations for the relocation were far too low.   So we drew up a new budget and started negotiations with Hutchinsons to carry  out the fitout works on a design and construct basis with a capped price.

We knew it was going to be a big push to get the project completed, and that was even before Covid hit and the country went into lockdown in March 2020!

But because we had already developed a team culture that involved the client, the builder, the trades, the landlord and all other stakeholders, we were in a great position to keep the project moving.  Of course we ran into some of the supply issues that hit the industry in this period, but by keeping the lines of communication open we had contingency plans and fall back positions we could easily rely on.

We ended up with some amazing outcomes, including a gallery wall that rotates to create completely different environments for displays, a beautiful new theatre and bar, and a great office space for the Metro Arts team.

You have to build trust with ALL stakeholders, not just your client, to get the best outcomes.

A word from the client:

On behalf of the Board I wanted to sincerely thank you for your work on our West Village project.  Your experience, guidance and negotiating skills ensured a smooth delivery of our new home, to budget and to our timeline. And all completed in a pandemic!
Thank you for your professionalism and the extra care you brought to this project. We consider
you a valuable part of the Metro Arts family.

— Michael Cottier, Chair, Metro Arts

To find out more about our process and how our experience can make yours easier, head to our tenancy coordination or project management pages, or get in touch