In the 16th century your average town saw a huge change, during the reformation many churches closed and this saw them taken over and changed into alternative venues including theatres and printeries. Today we see a new movement of empty buildings, and it’s not due to the recession, it is just the future.
Most older people feel uncomfortable about the future because they know it means change, but for younger people it can be exciting especially as today the general public are involved in their brands and surroundings more than ever. So how does this affect your towns high street?
People see that the high street is dying – they blame so many things, the recession, the internet and big supermarkets. Does that mean people are going to say “wait a minute my high street is dying, I wont buy that off the internet even though it is cheaper and more convenient”. When the train was invented did people say “Oh no, that means there are going to be less boats so we all better catch a boat instead of this much faster train”. No. People like things moving forward and by embracing change it can mean things are different and new for the next generation. And guess what? That creates history.
Even better than embracing change is actually having a share in it. There is absolutely no doubt that high street shops will close more and more. People prefer either (a) the internet or (b) buying from megastores – this is just the future don’t argue it.
So where does this leave us? Well it means we are on the brink of a brand new type of high street. Instead of the high street being the place to be for the “ultimate shop experience” it will become the place to be for the “ultimate leisure and entertainment experience” .
The proof in the pudding is that there are various projects throughout the UK seeing various empty buildings being turned into something community based. Examples are cafe’s, theatres, art galleries and even small independent book and record shops. Also a various range of temporary pop up shops appear in towns that cater to a refreshing “change” that is desired by the next fast moving generation.
Street festivals, markets, live performances will thrive in such lively surroundings and provide a refreshing break from the rush of the huge megastores on the outskirts of towns.
At the moment there is some funding available for these type of projects, because its part of the regeneration of your high street. This means that your empty bank that went bust last year has the potential to be an art gallery, an art studio, co-working space, a vintage shop or a cafe amongst many many other concepts.
The best thing is that for us creatives the next 10 years will see the most creativity ever brought to YOUR high street which will engage with the community and increase all round creativity. But that also means that us creatives have to help make that happen successfully and play our part.
To find out more about how you can be part of the future high street and get it here quicker please have a look at the following websites.
All the above writing was inspired and noted from a Empty Shops Workshop 161 in Rochester,Kent on the 28th of February 2011 by Natasha Sexton.