Creative Shops is a three year programme designed to turn empty shops on town streets into creative shared spaces.
Think ‘pop-up’ shop but with a resident theatre maker inside. A Creative Shop has open doors inviting everybody in, from passers-by and shoppers to school groups and community groups. An average creative shop will deliver workshops, connect artists, exhibit work, create games, devise and perform theatre and generally be a 4, 6 or 8 week blast of colour, fun, audience building and making for an otherwise vacant building.
A Creative Shops project does a few things.
It get people participating. It brings theatre to new (and often unsuspecting) audiences. It brings energy to existing creative communities. It animates struggling streets. It strengthens communities and networks. It can help regenerate an area. It can help increase footfall on a street.
Importantly, and the thing that really makes it work, is that a Creative Shop is ‘on the ground’ – all day. It can listen to and hear what the local community think, want and need. It not only provides a programme of creative activity, it consults with people who come in, join in, or simply pass by.
This is our second Creative Shops programme and we are in year 1. So far, we have had a Creative Shop in Ballyclare, Comber and Carrickfergus with two more planned for Omagh and Magherafelt. We will revisit some of these next year and include some new towns.
The first Creative Shops programme ran from 2015-18. The current programme runs until 2021. Both have been funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Trust