Can art save our high streets? In Yorkshire, it’s already happening

Stilt walkers stalk the pavement and a flashmob all of the sudden seems from behind a row of neon model legs inside a former division retailer: the excessive avenue in Keighley, West Yorkshire, could have misplaced some main retail gamers in recent times, however it’s something however useless. 

Guests to Keighley have been instructed to “anticipate the surprising” by way of a sequence of free occasions as they browsed companies and explored an arts path in the course of the ‘Ok-City’ weekend on the finish of March. 

It was the most recent venture by Keighley Creative, a volunteer-led arts organisation, which relies within the former Sunwin Home division retailer within the city. 

“So much has been stated not too long ago about how artwork has the potential to avoid wasting our excessive streets, so we really feel immensely proud to be one of many first to be really doing that,” says Emma Rochford from the venture. “And never in a metropolis, however in a northern city with actual group values.” 

After taking over the previous store as a in the meantime area in 2017, the group has already opened up a gallery, a venture and schooling area, and several other artist studios, in addition to working the Keighley Arts and Movie Pageant. 

Following the success of the Ok-City weekend, the group needs to develop their plans and has obtained funding (by way of the federal government’s Cities Fund) for a everlasting residence. On the wishlist is an exhibition area, a restaurant, as much as 50 studios, a mini-cinema and a “cluster of boutique retail and meals areas”. 

As Keighley Artistic’s supervisor and artistic producer Gemma Hobbs places it: “Creativity, group, collaboration. Collectively these can assist save our excessive streets.”

This text is the most recent in our ‘reinventing the high street’ sequence. Over the approaching weeks Optimistic Information will likely be shining a lightweight on the folks, locations and initiatives which are respiratory new life into the UK’s city and metropolis centres as many retail giants abandon them.

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