Sunday, 2 May 2010
Great Empty Shops Event: And Tracey Came Too!
The Margate Empty Shops event arranged by We Make Margate was a great success, all who attended appreciated Dan Thompson's knowledge and felt inspired to do something locally to address Margate's glut of Empty Shops.
Things had been happening to those shops...... overnight! Some have been covered in bright vinyls depicting the interiors of shops, some even depicting the original use of the shop. All this at the 'hands' of the 'new broom' at the Town Partnership, a local Property Developer and Estate Agent. All good I may hear you say; this was not in response to the work of the Empty Shops Network, or even in response to the pot of funding given to the Local Authority to address 'empty shops'. It was due to the media light being shone on Margate, because of the iminent arrival of Margate's 'enfant-terrible'. 'Our Tracey' herself, coming to turn on 'Her Neon Light' attached to Listed 'The Droit House'. And to kick start the run up to the opening of the New Turner Contemporary Gallery next door. Would it have happened other wise? Who knows.
It is interesting to observe the following: Dan T mentioned to me that this was the first event where so many Local Authority people attended, it never usually happens that way. It was also a surprise to me, I arranged the event, I sent out the invites and waited patiently (oh, ok not so patiently) for the RSVPs to come back, arranged the venue, the publicity and promotion, invited the key speaker Dan Thompson, Guru of the Empty Shops Network (Thank you Dan) and the workshop by Giles at (Proboscis) Thank you Giles. Yet only a couple of the 'Local Authority' atendees, ever confirmed thier attendance. Two even arrived from a LA who I had not even invited (wow the power of social media). With the exception of those already mentioned only one other actually made any attempt to speak to me at all. Particularly as one has the direct responsibility for the Empty Shops funding that went to the Council. Only one of Our Council reps made it to the start of the event and therefore missed everything about how to do it and how to overcome the barriers and she (Thank you, for being on time) had only just been appointed to her post, which was a little unfair as she got all the questions, which of course she could not answer (rightly so).
A very interesting occurance happened; one of the Key LA people took Dan off to see some empty shops, including the erstwhile empty Marks & Spencer building in the High Street. which of course Our Council owns having aquired a serious sum of money from SEEDA et al to allow a 'grand plan' to develop a 'link' from the Old Town into Cecil Square......... which of course in the end..... didn't happen. It had been used by Turner Contemprary for a long time as a temporary gallery space, which came to an abrupt end... as you can see, before the New Gallery has even opened.
So, what will happen to We Make Margate, we will continue to support the interests of Local Makers, Businesses, artists, and the people who do, and if that incudes 'empty shops' Great, if not we will find other effective ways of rebuilding lost networks and pride in Margate, its people, its architecture, its history and its creativity.
AND OF COURSE OUR TRACEY CAME TOO!!!