The Creative Society is an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
Empty shop space: space for creative economic growth?
It was encouraging to see the government last week address the issue of empty shop space. Across Britain great swathes of valuable high street acreage currently lie fallow as more and more shops, large and small alike, close their doors for the final time. How is this space to be used constructively?
It has to be right that empty shop space across the country should be made available for artistic and cultural projects. Today’s Guardian G2 points out that providing such shop space for galleries and art projects not only replenishes the cultural stock and social condition of Britain’s town centres, but also encourages high street spending by engendering a “feelgood factor” amongst communities.
The government’s £3m investment pledge last week to “help communities find creative ways to reduce the negative impact empty shops have on the high street” appears to be a genuine attempt to solve the problem.
“Empty shops can be eyesores or crime magnets. Our ideas for reviving town centres will give communities the know how to temporarily transform vacant premises into something innovative for the community – a social enterprise, a showroom for local artists or an information centre – and stop the high street being boarded up“. Hazel Blears, Communities Secretary
“Culture and creativity are part of the answer to tough economic times… By transforming otherwise empty town centre premises into hubs for culture and creativity, we can regenerate both the physical space itself and the hope and ambition of all those that have a stake in them. Andy Burnham, Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport