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Case Study

The Lifted Brow

Literary magazine/journal venture The Lifted Brow is an evolving addition to Melbourne’s City of Literature status in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

The organisation specifically champions works from the artistic or demographic margins. The quarterly magazine features contributions from renown Australian and International literary figures, while original works are also published via its website and events – from music gigs to lectures and writing competitions – are staged throughout the year.

Renew Australia spoke with Dockland Spaces program alumni and The Lifted Brow founder, Sam Cooney, to find out how participation in the Renew Australia had supported the growth of the initial fledgling venture.

‘We occupied our office space on the second level of a building in Docklands for two years. There was no retail exposure in our space yet we benefitted from the program through capacity building – including advice, mentoring and information sessions – and collaboration with other Renew tenants and exhibitions. These included the ARI food court exhibitions and events, and inclusion in all kinds of interesting spaces during Melbourne Music Week. Ongoing free rent was an obvious benefit and the program allowed us to strategically plan.’

‘We have continued to expand following the Renew program. The Lifted Brow has evolved as a more sustainable practice, and employed some staff and contractors.’

‘Since the Renew program, we have also continued to receive attention for our book publishing, now based at RMIT, including literary art prize such as the two Stella Prizes for Brow Books in 2019 (Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau and Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin) and overseas sales. I’m a big supporter of the program.’

5 Questions with Sam from The Lifted Brow

How did the Renew Docklands Art Collective program help you?

The program allowed our literary publishing group to create and build a professional working space, one in which we could regularly meet and work on all our projects. Without the program we would not have been able to afford another space, and so our work would’ve been messy and chaotic, and much less sustainable.

What’s the greatest challenge in turning a creative practice into a business?

Convincing an unforgiving, hyper-capitalistic world that creativity can be a business, but that it will inevitably take longer, and ultimately that money/profit isn’t ever really the end goal.

How do you balance work-life balance while running your own business?

Very difficultly! The only way is to learn incredible self-discipline – to learn how and when to switch off.

Where to now?

We now have an office space at RMIT University, and are building our relationship with this institution. The Renew Docklands initiative allowed us to grow and professionalise in a way that we could then pitch ourselves to RMIT.

Would you recommend participation in future Renew Australia projects?
Yes, most definitely! For those groups or individuals who fit the brief, it’s a great leg-up.

Awards / Accolades

The Lifted Brow has continued to receive media coverage for its published works, greater reach through overseas sales and recognition through literary prizes, including two Stella Prizes for Brow Books in 2019.