West Space was established in 1993 in Footscray by Brett Jones and Sarah Stubbs and was, at the time, one of the few artist-run initiatives to present a critically engaged, multi-art form program accessible to practitioners through peer-assessed applications.
The organisation quickly grew in stature and reputation, moving premises in 2000 with the assistance of the City of Melbourne to a location in Anthony Street, between RMIT University and the Queen Victoria Market.
In 2011 West Space began an exciting new chapter, moving to our much larger and centrally located current site, at Level 1 of the City of Melbourne owned building City Village at 225 Bourke Street. This substantially greater size has enabled us to radically expand our artistic program, offering more opportunities for audiences to engage with innovative arts events in the heart of Melbourne.
West Space has developed a significant reputation amongst Australian and international arts organisations. This has been forged through a sustained belief in the importance of artist-run culture to practitioners, audiences and the art industry, and has manifested in a critically renowned exhibition program and a prolific range of self-generated projects and publications. Over the past 19 years West Space has exhibited over 1800 individual artists, produced 25 publications and a journal comprising 13 issues, and developed over 60 projects, including 10 international projects in Singapore, Milan, Vancouver, Toronto, Osaka, Seoul, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Oyama and Paris.
West Space regularly plays a leadership role in the community as an advocate for artists and critically engaged contemporary practice. This includes assuming the management and coordination of projects such as Making Space: artist run initiatives in Victoria (2007), a two month long program of exhibitions, performances, public events and workshops involving 21 ARIs across the state, accompanied by an ambitious 256 page publication.
In 2005 West Space began an exhaustive research project into restructuring its governance, a key step forward in its artistic and operational development. This process led to the formation of a board with the strategic skills to take the organisation forward, while retaining a co-operative sensibility, whereby the entire membership of the organisation’s staff and committees have input over the direction of West Space. This process has inspired West Space to think of itself more as an artist-led organisation while simultaneously embracing our capacities around strategic leadership and developing sustainability.