I’ve had the good fortune to come across the Empty Shops Network recently. In these recent difficult economic times, it’s a clever initiative that takes vacant shops in run-down areas, and gets artists and creative types to fill them with whatever they can think of. The landlord will often let the network have these vacant spaces for free or for next to nothing, with the payoff being that their space gets shown for it’s potential.
The good thing is that an area that may appear “dead” gets the benefit of the “life” of creativity, and the events are often free with some basic fundraising initiatives to cover the costs – so the local community gets something that’s interesting, educational, bright and exciting. It also keeps creatives creating and being able to showcase their work – everyone’s a winner!
They’ve been going for a while, but I first found out about them when I started following artistsmakers on Twitter. Even more recently, they’ve done their “magic” near me in a somewhat rough and disused area of Brixton, called the Granville Arcade, which has now been re-branded as Brixton Village.
The reason I bring this up, is that next week, another initiative is starting in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden, London. The project will be known as “Seven Days in Seven Dials”, and works in partnership with some of the major art institutions of the area. Basically there are 38 unemployed people who are doing work experience at these institutions, and Seven Days in Seven Dials is based around their work experience. From the press release: “Working closely with professional podcasters, photographers and artists, the Culture Quarter Programme participants will spend a week using a shop as a studio. They will produce audio tour podcasts, short videos and exhibition material exploring the history of the local area; the artistic, cultural and historical links between the organisations involved in the project, and individual experiences of the participant’s day-to-day activities within their organisations.”
I’ve been involved in such initatives before – back in the 90s some of us now mooters took over bars and empty shops to do art exhibitions, cabarets and cafés as a means of engaging with the local community, and many of the things that moot is now doing come out of that idea.
Anyways, do drop in and see what’s going on. You can see the participants developing their stuff from 10am on Monday 5th July, and the resulting exhibition will be on from Sat. 10th until Fri. 23rd July.
And if you want to follow what’s going on with it all on Twitter, then follow @vobes @artistsmakers @madamsalami and @artbizness, and the hashtag for it is #7days7dials if you’re doing a search or getting involved.