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.

To view the boundaries of each of Newcastle's business precincts where Special Business Rates are collected, click on the Special Business Rate Precinct Maps (PDF). For more information on the eligibility requirements and assessment criteria for SBR funding, please read the SBR Program Funding Guidelines.

2022 City / Darby Street SBR Funding - applications now closed.

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 or Darby Street. Watch this space for details on successful projects.

2022 Wallsend, Hamilton and New Lambton SBR Funding now released

In May and June this year, 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 will be bringing more life to these precincts soon:

Project name Organiser Amount received 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 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. Categories of focus are on industry / business development, place activation / events, beautification / infrastructure development and promotion. The following 20 projects will be creating a buzz in your city in the coming months:

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 Funding released

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

In May 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 are:

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.