Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Empty shops discussion group

Bellow is a useful link to an on-line discussion group bringing together a network of people utilising or wanting to utilise empty shops:

Art in Unusual Places Launch

Art in Unusual Places is a Leeds based initiative utilising some of the many empty shops in the city by temporarily turning them into art spaces. The project will be launched tomorrow for more information visit:

Monday, 28 September 2009

National Empty Shops Conference

Unfortunately we are unable to attend this conference as it is 7 hours away and we are working but it sounds really interesting....

This will be a practical one-day event, where 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)
- 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 
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'll also hear from the London-based Space Makers who are looking at 
co-working spaces, hack labs, arts spaces, social centres, community 
cafes and similar uses of space - and national group Action for Market 
Towns 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 
and local authorities.

Email - - or call on 01903 526268 to reserve 
your place.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Window of Opportunity

York Museums Trust, Supported by Visit York, are piloting an innovative digital design programme to address the visual impact of empty shops in york city centre:

Once again thanks to William Davidson for this link.

Artquest: How to set up an artist led space

Many thanks to Katie Gill for the following link:

The link contains a wealth of great resources, tips and contacts to help with negotiating the use of empty shop units.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Art in Unusual Places

We received an email this morning through Leeds Visual Arts Forum about an opportunity for artists, curators and arts organisations to make use of the empty shops in Leeds city centre…


Art in Unusual Places | Call for Submissions


“Are you an artist / curator / arts organisation in Leeds frustrated by the
lack of exhibition spaces in the city? Then this could be the opportunity
for you!

Art in Unusual Places is a new scheme which opens up empty shop units and
city centre spaces for artists to use. Spaces range in size, scale and
location and include fully accessible units, shop windows and hoardings. If
you have an idea for a project, then we want to hear from you. Previous
project experience preferred, but not essential.

All spaces are rent and rate free to artists, although there may be some
costs which you will need to cover. The scheme is currently unable to pay
exhibition costs or cover your time.

If you would like to take part, please complete the application below. Art
in Unusual Places has a rolling deadline and selected artists / curators /
organisations will be served on a first-come-first-served basis. There are a
limited number of spaces available at this stage, so if something suitable
can’t be found immediately, we will contact you when it becomes available.

Art in Unusual Places is a partnership project between Leeds City Council,
the business community and cultural sector.

If you have any queries, please ring 0113 3950678.

This information and form can be downloaded from

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Behind closed Doors

Two new interesting links to projects reinterpreting unused and private spaces.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Leeds is on the list for government funding

"You may have heard that yesterday the Department of Communities & Local Government (CLG) told us how the £3m it announced in April will be used. It is being given to local authorities of 57 towns and cities, mainly in the Midlands and the North. If you're in one of those towns, contact your local council to find out how they will let you access the funding:

In addition, Arts Council England (ACE) have confirmed that their £500,000 will be distributed through the grants to the arts scheme, with priority being given to projects in those 57 towns. Projects must have CLG funding in place to receive priority from ACE:"

Thanks to
Dan Thompson from for forwarding on this information.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


We were in Evesham this weekend and found this old Motor Spares shop being used by the local scout group as a camp.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Shop cinema in Cambridge

Thanks to Will Sandy for this link:

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Links to projects based in disused spaces plus others

Here are some links to similar projects, for some inspiration and assurance that what we are proposing isn't impossible...

Leeds based projects:

National projects:

International projects:


As part of the exhibition at the Leeds Met Gallery we asked visitors to choose one of the empty spaces and write a proposal for how they would use the space if it was temporarily theirs, here are some of the suggestions…

Empty Shop 06: Boar Lane
A roller disco venue.

Empty Shop 57: Mill Hill
A place where you can find others to sing with

Empty Shop 42: Kirkgate
Instead of a titty bar, lets have a witty bar

Empty Shop 72: Regent Street
This shop would allow you to borrow books on the trust that you will return them to allow others to enjoy them

Empty Shop 39: Infirmary Street
‘Bring your own’ lunch restaurant for city centre office workers to get away from their desks during the week

Empty Shop 66: North Street
a language shop; teach some of your first or second language in an exchange for someone else's

Empty Shop 29: East Parade
A public ‘living room’ – a home from home walk in living room – clean sofa’s etc

4 Missing...

We received an email from Yvonne Carmichael, who used to run one of the disused spaces outside the front of the Grand Theatre as a gallery; she informed us that we had missed 4 empty units off our survey. 42 New Briggate, the unit she used to programme and three units alongside it are still empty, that takes the total of empty spaces up to 96.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A Walk 13th June 2009 11.00am

Thanks to all of those who attended and contributed to the walk last Saturday, some interesting discussions were had and valuable points raised, we will write them up shortly...

After the walk we returned to the Leeds Met Gallery to discuss and agree on some actions points to help realise the project. One of the action points was to create this blog, there are lots of people in Leeds who want to initiate this type of project and use empty spaces in the city, as a group we decided we should set up a blog to share information, resources and contacts with other activists in the city.

We would like this to be a site for discussion, if you have any relevant information, interesting links or opinions please share them

An Invitation

During April and May 2009 we walked 232 streets in Leeds city centre and conducted a survey of the closed down shops; in total there are 92 (excluding the arcades and markets).

The results of this survey are currently on display in the Leeds Met. Gallery, as part of the Recent Appointments Exhibition. The work is on display until the 26th June and invites you to choose one of the 92 empty shops and write a proposal for how you would use the shop if it was temporarily yours.

Please come and view the project and take part in an informal walk that is leaving from the Met. Gallery on Saturday 13th June at 11.00am. During the walk we will be considering the recent history of a number of the empty spaces, reflecting upon the present situation and discussing the potential for renewal. The walk has been organised with the aim of creating dialogue between local community groups, artists, the agents that manage the spaces and Leeds City Council.
The duration of the walk will be approximately one hours and 30 minutes, after which we will return to the Gallery for refreshments and to write up an action plan based on the discussions had.

If you are interested in the project but are unable to attend the walk, please get in touch to arrange a meeting with us:

92 Empty Shops



Empty shops are the face of the downturn, of depression and a lack of confidence but they also leave space for everything that does not revolve around money, for a new focus on need, on education and on encouragement.

Let’s make them: observation shops; talk and discussion shops; swap shops; skill shops; thinking shops; experimenting shops; history shops; sitting shops; meeting shops; exhibition shops; shops as places for debate and as places for chance encounters between people from different parts of the City.

Let’s make these spaces about thinking, producing, creating and learning, for those excluded by the expense of a day in town. Let’s make art spaces; meeting spaces; reading spaces; eating spaces; spaces that contribute to the social life of the City. Collectively we must find that which does not just rely on money; that which unites us; local initiatives; education and cultural engagement accessible to everybody.

Let this sign of depression be an opportunity to build a new framework for our City centre, away from the idea that money, private investment and consumerism are the only way to develop an area. Let’s develop the area ourselves on the basis of our interests and needs and allow everybody to benefit from it.

We propose a collective effort to fill these 92 shops and to use them to develop the social space of our City abandoned by profit-makers. Let’s make Leeds a City of diverse attractions, not with only big glossy crowd pullers but with a collective of independent spaces.


‘We Make the Road by Walking’*

Recent Appointments: Conway and Young

We will be presenting work collated from a series of walks around a designated area of Leeds.
Alongside other participatory elements, visitors to the show are invited to join us on a walk, during which we will consider the history of the spaces highlighted and reflect upon their present situation and potential for renewal.

*Title of poem by Antonio Machado

Recent Appointments

6-26 Jun09
Recent Appointments

Friday 5 June, 6-8.30pm
Clare Charnley, Conway and Young, Alan Dunn, Harold Offeh and Rory Macbeth.

This work by new lecturers at Leeds Met gives a glimpse of the other half of the exchange taking place between students and staff. Recent Appointments makes public what six ‘artists who teach’ do when they are outside the lecture theatre, the studios and the canteen.

Showing alongside the graduating students’ final exhibitions at Leeds Met Recent Appointments includes the launch of Alan Dunn's new audio CD project inspired by The Beatles' 1968 collage 'Revolution 9' and new participatory work by designers Conway + Young. Harold Offeh presents a small selection of recent video and performance work. Also working with video, Clare Charnley and collaborators attempt the ridiculous task of fitting two bodies into one. We see the results of Rory Macbeth’s translation of a Kafka novel from German into English without a dictionary or any knowledge of German. And there might be a boat…

To coincide with the graduate Arts Festival the Gallery will be open Mon-Sat 11am-4pm plus Sunday 7 May.