Sydney: New squatted social centre in Newton

The people who brought you the Midnight Star are back with ‘The Balloon Factory’. This Social Centre is now open in Newtown for parties, meetings,forums etc. Reclaimed space: Use it or Lose it! A new social centre has been successfully opened in Newtown, for YOU to use!

The space has been decorated by wall artists and will host meetings, parties, film nights, dumpster cafe and more. It is a political space for use by community groups who are unable to afford the high rents charged by commercial venues.

All around us public space is disappearing. Instead we are forced into corporate, where the only options are working or shopping. But we are fighting back. All around the world social centres are created so that activists and community groups can have space to organise events in a democratic way. Now there is a social centre in Newtown, in a building that lay abandoned for over a year. We aim to make this space a working alternative to the everyday system of violence, war, boredom and capitalism. It will be a community centre that is autonomous from state control and challenges the system of property relations, which keeps us broke and enslaved to a landlord.

The network responsible for reclaiming the space is SCAN (the Social Centre Autonomous Network) – the same people who brought you the Grand Midnight Star Social Centre in Homebush (now sadly defunct). We are activists and autonomously organised groups who make decisions through the network to occupy and organise around squatted social centres. We aim to liberate property from the inequities inherent in wealth accumulation, and make spaces beyond the boredom of work and consumption – spaces for creativity and social change beyond the symbols of dissent like petitions and rallies. SCAN occupies property in order to have political space to organise against capitalism.

Social centres make use of self-managed space through autonomous decision-making.Social centres are the result of occupation movements that reappropriate property for activist and working class community space. These kinds of squats are part of an international matrix of squatting movements with histories of supporting worker, peasant, student and community uprisings critical of private property systems and government power. Our current project in Newtown is a reaction to the rapid erosion of real public space in the area. Newtown is a suburb with a long history of militant, working class resistance (for instance, the Unemployed Workers Movement of the 1940’s), however this history is currently being diminished by gentrification and rising property prices.This reflects a broader pattern throughout Sydney, where inner urban areas are stripped of their working class roots, and those without money are pushed further out into the suburbs. Through a social centre, we want to reactivate a genuine, dynamic community, a real alternative to an area that is increasingly orientated towards passive consumption.

The sorts of activities we envisage using the social centre for are information sharing, free/cheap cultural space, libraries, multimedia resources, meetings/forums and parties. Providing social services such as free food and resources to people increasingly disenfranchised by the stripping of the welfare state is prioritised. Free Yoga, theatre, net access and art exhibitions are also on the cards…

The aim of a social centre is to create a space that is free of racism, sexism and homophobia. In order to do this, it is important that the space is free of state control, and that we organise in a way which respects autonomous movements and establishes real links with communities. We acknowledge that any space we appropriate in this country is already occupied territory, forcefully stolen from indigenous communities, and that indigenous people are the most marginalised through the politics of property. As both national and international space becomes increasingly militarised and restricted, the prevention of indigenous communities from free movement within their own land is echoed in the forced detention of those who cross borders without state sanction. In creating a space outside of the state, we are attempting to resist border control and militarised policing.

We exist to demonstrate the capacity of people to organise themselves outside the systems of state and market which increasingly control our lives. By providing our own social and political spaces we are empowered to express our marginalised voices and take control of our communities.

Drop round to check out the art exhibition or just to have a chat and sit down.

Contact SCAN on 0402 522 485, or check out