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Empty Shops

  • February 5, 2011

In the UK, the current economic states have forced many business owners to close-up their storefronts, leaving the urban shopping district a barren landscape. The Empty Shops Network, a project of The Revolutionary Arts Group, has devised a plan to use closed storefronts for the benefit of local artists and photographers on a temporary basis.

Pop-Up Gallery at The UpMarket empty shop project in Worthing Dec   09
Pop-Up Gallery by Dan Thompson

“In February 2009, it’s estimated that about 10% of the UKs shops are sitting empty and the figure is rising to one in six shops by the end of the year, with over 1000 high street businesses closing every week. Landlords letting artists, arts organizations and community groups use their empty spaces see the property looking great and kept in good order, and their business getting some great publicity.”

-Source: Empty Shops Workbook

The group was started approximately 10 years ago by Dan Thompson, who used empty shops along with a group of artists. They have continued in the same direction ever since. Although they weren’t the first to employ the use of empty shops, their group is the largest and most successful. A similar group in South London did so in the 80’s for a brief period of time. Since the early days, the concept seems to have taken off. Today the Empty Shops Network has temporary locations set up in Scotland, Wales, England, and Australia. They would very much like to take the project to the United States, possibly setting up a temporary location in Detroit, Michigan.

A look at their website reveals just how far the group has progressed. Their website has numerous photos and information about the group and recent and on-going events. What makes this group interesting is the fact that the locations in which their exhibits are displayed are only temporary; typically each location is only set up for no more than one year, after which everything is packaged up and moved somewhere else.

In addition to their website, the group is very active on social media websites such as: Facebook, Flickr, Yahoo! Groups, and Twitter. If you wish to contact the group directly, you can email Dan Thompson, or his administrator.

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