In 2008, Marcus Westbury returned to his hometown of Newcastle, Australia and found more than 150 empty buildings lining its two main streets. Three years later the world’s largest travel publisher, Lonely Planet, named it one of the Top Ten cities to visit in the world.
Creating Cities is about the unlikely events in between. How a failed idea to start a bar morphed into a scheme that has helped transform Newcastle, launched more than two hundred creative and community projects across Australia and is fast becoming a model for cities and towns around the world.
In an engaging, thoughtful and observational style, Marcus Westbury argues that most towns and cities are wasting their most obvious opportunities: the talent, imagination, and passion of the people that live there. In a globalised age, local creativity has access to new possibilities that most places have barely begun to grasp.
Marcus weaves a local story of how identifying and fixing small scale failures in Newcastle into a larger set of ideas and “why-to” strategy with potential applications in cities and towns around the world. Creating Cities is an inspiring must read for creative people, civic and business leaders, town planners, citizens and anyone who cares about the communities that they live in.
Marcus Westbury is as an Australian urbanist, writer, broadcaster and festival director and consultant on cities, community building, culture and place activation.
Marcus was the founder of Renew Newcastle a multi award wining project which has brokered access to more 70 properties for more than 170 creative projects, businesses and enterprises in Newcastle Australia and Renew Australia which has worked more than 20 communities around Australia to develop local creative and community projects in vacant spaces.
Marcus is a fellow of Monash University and has been an advisor to numerous governments, companies and communities. In mid 2015 Marcus will be writer and presenter of Bespoke on ABC TV Australia and will release Creating Cities a book about cities based on the Renew Newcastle experience that was the product of an Australian record crowd funding campaign.