Filling shops the Wembley way
June 21, 2012
Amanda Blinkhorn reports on five weeks in the life of a meanwhile project and finds out why this movement to turn empty shops into hubs of innovation continues to gather momentum
One of the greatest visible signs of the recession is the increasing number of empty boarded-up shops on our high streets. They are depressing to look at, expensive for the abandoned landlords to maintain, and yet another tantalising kick in the teeth for hundreds of artists, artisans, and wannabe entrepreneurs who are desperate for a place to show and sell their wares.
Now an imaginative match-making service, which enables people to test out their new ideas in empty shops, is bringing these dead spaces back to life. Community interest company, Meanwhile Space, scours the country for boarded up shops and works with local authorities and private landlords to enable creative, community-minded people to use them as a free springboard. In return, commercial landlords are relieved of the burden of paying business rates on their empty shops and can relax between tenants knowing their property is safe, secure and being made good use of.
Here’s how Meanwhile Space’s latest project, The Coming Soon Club, turned an abandoned tool hire shop into a bustling meeting place, rehearsal room and fashion emporium – all in the space of five weeks.