ARThouse on the High Street
An innovative visual arts hub animating an empty shop on Twickenham high street and providing space for creative skills-sharing for the local community
In partnership with the borough’s Arts Service, we plan to curate a temporary pop-up art exhibition in an empty shop in Twickenham, improving the visitor experience to the high street and inspiring a stronger local arts infrastructure. For 6 weeks in June and July, coinciding with the borough’s annual ARThouse open studios festival and the Twickenham Festival, the empty shop will be transformed into an exhibition and workshop space featuring local artists’ work. The space will be animated by a programme of workshops and demonstrations, providing innovative creative opportunities for the local community, as well as creating opportunities for artists’ professional development. Using an empty shop premises in this way will encourage footfall to the high street and help animate the town centre in line with the town’s current regeneration plans.
What we’ll do:
- Renovate an empty shop premises on Twickenham High Street to showcase the work of up to 100 artists
- Open the pop up to the public 5 days a week for 6 weeks in June and July 2015
- Organise a series of artist demonstrations and workshops for the local community in the space
- Provide at least one networking opportunity for artists throughout the 6 week pop up period
- Provide at least one networking opportunity for neighbouring traders and businesses to share ideas
- Provide marketing opportunities for artists to promote their work and open studio events
Why it’s a great idea:
Twickenham town centre has 28 vacant shop premises (Oct 2014). We know that demand for use of temporary spaces is high but that local artists experience difficulty in accessing empty shops. This project will fulfil a real need for more cultural presence in the town centre and encourage new visitors to the high street. Similar empty shop arts initiatives have helped increase footfall to the high street: in 2014 a similar pop-up space attracted approx 2000 visitors in under a month. This project will provide stimulating cultural activity in a central accessible location, benefiting the town centre and local community and supporting the ongoing regeneration and the Twickenham BID. We will work with at least 2 trader associations; hosting at least 1 event for neighbouring businesses and a further 7 networking / creative participatory events during the pop up period, making Twickenham a cultural destination and creating a shared inspirational and creative space.
How we’ll get it done:
- Work with Twickenham Business Association, Twickenham BID & LBRUT Economic Development Team to identify an empty shop
- Secure a temporary lease for the premises and ensure public liability insurance is in place
- Renovate space and design and install temporary signage for shop front
- Contract artists and workshop leaders for community outreach programme
- Devise marketing strategy to promote pop up space and programme
- Install exhibition
This project would fulfil a real demand for more cultural presence in Twickenham, as identified by the local community: ‘We need things like this for people in Twickenham’; ‘Needed 24 – 7 – 365’.
The Twickenham Area Action Plan outlines the much needed reinvention of Twickenham, which is now at a critical stage and this project would form a key part of the next phase of development in the town centre. We know that this type of activity encourages new pop and empty shop projects and we would aim to decrease the vacancy rate of empty units in Twickenham and encourage at least one new pop up by the end of 2015. Match funding for the project will come from Richmond Council’s Empty Shop Grant Scheme to demonstrate what can be achieved in empty shops.
Twickenham is also one of the host cities for the 2015 Rugby World Cup next Autumn and this project will form part of the cultural offer for visitors to the town centre in advance of this major event.