It’s only a couple of weeks until I host the first national Empty Shops Conference.

Now conferences all look a bit big and scary, but this is organised on a shoestring (which has been jointly funded by Worthing Regeneration and The Meanwhile Project – but is still only a shoestring). My business, the revolutionary Arts Group, is doing all the admin, marketing and running the day. We have a few volunteers…

It’s going to be a practical one-day event, with a DIY/ workshop ethic. People from across the UK coming together and we’ll find out what works and what doesn’t, looking at projects across the UK; look at what funding is available (we have a funding expert booked for the day) and most important have lots of chance to network and share ideas, inspiration and advice.

I’ll be talking about the history of the empty shops movement, and I’ll be referencing Keith Haring’s ‘Pop Shop’ and Tracey Emin & Sarah Lucas Bethnal Green ‘Shop’ which both appear in Tate Modern’s oh-so-controversial ‘Pop Life’ exhibition right now. And I’ll be looking at the current situation, using Coventry and their council’s work to develop a Void Space Strategy as an example. I’ll talk about why local councils should be supporting the sector, and the real benefits it can deliver to people who live, work and invest in our towns. We have a few delegates attending from local authorities, so it will be interesting to see their take on the work that’s happening.

We’ll also hear from Dougald Hine, whose London-based Space Makers are looking at co-working spaces, hack labs, arts spaces, social centres, community cafes and similar uses of space – and Katie Fewings from national group Action for Market Towns will talk about how empty shops have a big effect on smaller towns

The Empty Shops Conference is on Monday 19th October, at the Richmond Rooms, Stoke Abbot Road, Worthing. The event runs from 11am-4pm, and includes a light lunch and lots of time to network. Places are limited, so advance booking is essential. It’s £10 for arts and community groups and individuals, and £20 for larger organisations, businesses and local authorities.

Email me – [email protected] – or call on 01903 526268 to reserve your place.

1 Comment