via flickr yuu@photography
“Helping local individuals and groups to work with councils in converting less glamourous spaces to good use” – The Times.
For the past 22 years, as part of the City’s revilalization efforts, the Portland (OR) Development Commission has offered a Storefront Improvement Program to help rebuild business districts and enhance surrounding neighborhoods.
The Empty Shops Network was created in London, UK in 2001 to support new and old business, give space to the creative industry and for social enterprise by adding art, culture, community and a punch of fun to high streets.
Storefronts Seattle is a neighbourhood activiation program, supporting the health and viality of a city’s walking neighbourhoods through temporary pairings of artists and creative businesses with vacant storefronts spaces. Storefronts Seattle started in September 2011, and is currently accepting applications for their 2012 Projects Roster until February 22nd, 2012.
Other cities with similar programs include: Manhatten, NY (Swing Space), New Haven, CT, (Our Empty Space), Charlottesville, VA (Commonplace Arts), Newcastle, Australia (Renew Newcastle), Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
These empty storefront programs, such as the one in Portland, are often run by state and local government that provide cash grants and technical assistance to business and property owners to:
- Help new and established businesses attract customers
- Leverage private investment from current owners and inspire improvements to neighbouring buildings
- Enhance the appearance and charm of commercial areas while building a safer street environment
- Re-establish pride in various neighbourhoods throughout the city
Reading all of these articles makes me wonder why Vancouver, BC doesn’t have its own empty shops network? I know that pop up shops has been “popping” up around the City, but a creative enterprise such as this program would be a perfect place for local artists to create temporary installations (see this most recent project in Willesden), to provide artists a creative space to pursue new projects, and for local organizations and designers / crafters / artists to test out new business ideas and create a short term retail space. Do you think that we should have similar to this in Vancouver? Would love to hear your thoughts!