Recession and the arts
Leicester city centre has had, and continues to undergo, a revamp as part of a city centre regeneration programme. Highcross, a new shopping area that was created as part of this process, is fantastic but has taken away footfall from other areas of the city centre that were traditionally the hub of shopping activity.
This regeneration, coupled with the recession, has meant that a number of prominent retail units in the traditional main shopping streets have been left vacant by shops either moving to the new area or falling victim to the recession. I read this article in the local paper a couple of days ago which I found really interesting.
I have previously known that artistic communities are often the catalyst for regeneration, making use of neglected areas and subsequently become desirable, but often this happens in areas that have been neglected for years. It is interesting that this has happened as a result of regeneration, although the fact that this is coupled with a period of recession is probably less surprising.
The Art for Change Group are behind this scheme, which apparently originated in Berlin. The result of their second scheme in Leicester is:
Image courtesy of Art and Company Art for Change Group
I have heard of this happening in other towns and cities across the UK, although It think that this is the first time that this particular company has staged exhibits in this country. This is something that I would certainly be interested in participating in, and wanted to highlight it to others in case they want to do the same.
With the closure of the City Gallery in Leicester earlier in the year, it is great to see another alternative outlet for contemporary art emerging in the city. I would be interested to hear from other artists about their experiences if they have participated in schemes such as this.