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Art in unusual spaces

  • Date: 9 October 2009
  • Area: South East

When presenting work in a building isn't an option, it takes imagination and creative thinking to reach your audiences. Artists and arts organisations in the south east are thinking outside the box to do just that.

Being 'homeless' while their new building is being constructed gave Oxford's Pegasus Theatre the impetus to look for new ways to encourage young people to get involved in theatre. Three of Pegasus' youth theatre and dance production companies, made up of young people aged 14-19, recently performed on an internaional festival stage at the Grenoble 'Rencontres Jeune Theatre European'. Pegasus will also be going on the road around Oxford working with partner venues across the city.

In Margate, empty shops have been undergoing a creative make-over thanks to artists Total Pap. They have been commissioned by Thanet District Council to create fantastic recycled and environmentally friendly artwork representing ideas that they hope will attract new businesses to the area. The project titled Windows of Opportunity is animating Margate's high street and transforming the town centre with vibrant installations such as Wet Fish Shop (pictured).

If Margate has inspired you there are two new funding schemes which have been set up to support similarly creative projects on the high street. Arts Council England has pledged £500,000 to support artists who want to transform vacant high street shops. In the south east our Art in empty spaces initiative is focused on developing Hastings and Thanet areas and funds are now available for this through Grants for the arts.

Our Art in empty spaces initiatives is working in conjunction with the Department for Communities and Local Government's Looking after our town centres programme. This is also focused on enticing new businesses back into town centres with a dedicated fund £3 million.