Tag Archives: empty shops


Alrighty. I’m writing a few articles for different arty type magazines so hopefully I will be updating on Thursdays with, well, words. Words directly from the articles, quotes, other peoples articles. Plenty of words. It will probably mainly cover art related subjects but it is a pretty broad spectrum – film, fine art, music – whatever it is I happen to be researching and writing about.

If that is your type of thing be sure to check back then.

This week: Empty Shop Syndrome.

Yep the latest thing hitting the British high street: artists. A truly terrifying thought on many levels. It was covered really well in Fiona Flynn’s article for Q-Art London and the subsequent debate in A-N magazine:

“Art spaces as alternatives to shops are, I say, no help to struggling retailers who need spending punters back on the high street. Indeed, to suggest that art spaces can act as a counter-balance to retail blight isn’t just mistaken, in terms of helping other shops attract customers. The idea of art as a government policy tool to dampen the effects of the recession and give a cheery outlook on blighted high streets demeans art itself.” Fiona Flynn.

 “It is true that thousands of shops will close this year, and this trend will continue. This is widely acknowledged to be a result of a cataclysmic change in our habits, an inevitable result of Web2 where goods can be selected, paid for and delivered the following day. Combined with the withdrawal of lines of credit and the difficulty of parking, the future of town centres looks bleak indeed. Perhaps we should start thinking that maybe this is the future of town centres, as places to buy local produce in an environment dominated by music, fun and art, the good things in life.” Dorian Kelly.

I’ve also recently written an article for a small arts magazine that covers the basic structure of this debate (it has been submitted but not confirmed as accepted yet so I won’t be putting it online for a little bit). However I would be really interested in anyone’s thoughts on it all. Do you side with Fiona and think these schemes have little in the way of merit or use? Or do you think this is a case of creative individuals finally staking a decent claim in the retail landscape? Personally I am rather dull in my opinions on this matter as I fall somewhere roughly in the middle. I think these schemes have a lot of potential to offer (and I have seen some of that action firsthand) but I feel there is a lot of half arsed attempts out there too. The lazier offerings not only cheapen the whole idea but can also be worrying distracting from the main point: that we are in recession, change is needed and that can only occur through well planned and forward thinking proposals.