UDB Criteria

We have welcomed arts and culture projects wishing to use vacant, underutilised or public space in Wellington city. Projects could be of any duration as long as they had strong public impact and need not have been temporary. We looked to the long-term in assisting change in the city.

Providing strong criteria and setting a high bar is very important to getting high quality active projects, and are assessed by an Advisory Panel.

We were looking for projects that:

Engage people in Wellington City: Projects that are dynamic and open to the public, accessible and visible. They needed to increase a sense of community in the city and interact with the public in new ways. Thinking about how they can involve people.

Provide the unique and innovative: We have not been interested in turning cities into another copy of themselves, or one type of space or gallery. We have asked people to think about how their project might operate differently to what is already in existence. 

Being professional and having a clear idea: Applicants should demonstrate they are ready to look after a space or hold a public space responsibly. Looking after a space open to the public develops professional skills and business practice, but UDB needs to have confidence you are ready. 

Pay attention to context: Projects should demonstrate an awareness of current usages, issues and history. Applicants should think about where it might best be located and interaction with its neighbourhood and existing uses.

Representation: We wished to increase the visibility of mana whenua in the city and the connection between the city and the history of the land it is placed on. We've also been committed to ensuring the city better reflects the diversity of its people. Applicants were asked to consider how their project represents these elements.

Existing Relocating Projects: Projects that involve relocating from an existing rented space in Wellington city have not been eligible. We do not want to undermine existing businesses and tenancies. We have prioritised new projects and initiatives. 

Student work that is under assessment is not eligible for the UDB unless previously arranged with the academic institution.

How it works

Urban Dream Brokerage helps find a space for approved projects and negotiates its use, organises a license (see below) and covers public liability insurance (we acquired this as Wellington Independent Arts Trust to cover all projects). We welcome others settin gup their own Urban Dream Brokerages. Links to forms and templates for use are provided below under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareALike international license - see here for the conditions that go with this.  Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available on request from this email. Please note that the UDB logo and name are not available for use as part of this license.

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The Application Process

  1. Criteria: Individuals or organisations first must be satisfied they meet the above criteria for application.
  2. Submission: Applicants fill out a Google submission form and contact the broker to discuss. The template we have used is here (note this is a sample form - not one that is in operation).
  3. Assessment: After processing the applications are assessed by the UBD advisory panel, who assess applications using consensus decision-making on platform Loomio. The proposal must meet with their majority approval as to matching the criteria, and they may provide advice on its best implementation. The advisory panel is important in providing outside advice and its important to us it represents people from the independent arts, business, property, public art and management fields. UBD then meet with applicants to vet their application and discuss potential spaces.
  4. Location: UDB proceeds to locate property or space options and commence negotiations if applicable. Applicants are also encouraged to identify spaces they think are suitable (in some instances they will actually negotiate the use of space themselves). If we think a project is suitable for a space that is available we meet with the applicant and assess the project in more detail.
  5. Licensing: Once located UDB issues any licenses needed and arranges for public liability insurance cover (a key part of the brokerage's services to applicants) and if applicable assists applicants to obtain power and other utilities (we can help with set-up but the cost of power and utilities is at the licensee's cost). A template for our standard license may be found here.
  6. Monitoring: The agency then monitors the progress, and reports back to both property owners, local authorities and partners at the end of the license. We will also feature applicants' projects on our website, through our newsletter to our database and through social media. Projects that aren't temporary should plan on operating on a rolling 30 day period of use.
  7. Reporting: We ask projects to complete a written report after their project and hold one-on-one debrief meetings with them. This includes keeping count of visitor numbers and collecting comments from participants.


When using commercial space licenses for properties are negotiated on a rent-free basis, either for a prescribed period of a few weeks or months, or on a rolling license that gives either a party the ability to give the other 30 days notice. Licensees pay a small weekly fee to UDB to help with the coverage of insurance and breakages. The temporary license (developed in partnership with major property owners)  provides that the licensee:           

  • covers the cost of power and utilities,
  • obtains through UBD public liability insurance,
  • And takes the property on a "as is where is basis".


The UDB has provided to both occupiers and property owners:
-brokerage of a temporary license
-photography and documentation of the project
-Public Liability Insurance for the building site up to $5 000 000
-Cover for minor damage up to $400

We have asked applicants to pay what they can afford in terms of a contributory fee when using vacant commercial space: $20 per week/ $50 per week/ or if they represent a small business or not for profit $100 per week. Licensees have been liable for power and other utilities - but we have offered assistance in getting the best deals we can on these.

All agreements have reviews built into them. If a licensee starts a business in a commercial space that ends up turning over good money we’d gradually expect them to start paying closer to a commercial rent to the property owners when they can afford to. This is something we'd assist in the negotiation of. With ongoing projects, our aim has been to nurture them so they eventually don’t need support.