Art and Empty Shops

As Antoinette Burchill, Arts Coordinator for the Derby City Council Art & Empty shops programme, I led on the arts aspects of following projects.  For phase 2 Derby: City of Invention, I built new, cross sector partnerships with artists, Derby Museum & Art Gallery, and Royal Crown Derby and Smith of Derby and co-curated the resulting exhibition.

Phase 1 – Art in the City

Art in the City project objectives
Arts objectives:

  • Support and develop the Derby arts practitioners and infrastructure.
  • Provide new opportunities for artists.
  • Develop new audiences for the visual arts.
  • Provide alternative, additional and unusual venues for the festival programme – development and delivery.

Regeneration objectives:

  • Support the temporary use of empty retail premises for art exhibitions, installations, workshops and other creative uses.
  • To increase the footfall for a neighbourhood, supporting local traders.
  • To encourage use of empty and vacant retail premises by artists and the art community to improve the look of the townscape.
  • Increase length of stay in areas which might otherwise deter people from visiting.
  • Promote and increase the awareness of the Cathedral Quarter/The Lanes in keeping with its brand values which are individual, diverse and inspiring.

Key Projects:

  •  Juneau Projects engaged and worked with 33 Derby artists to create a democratic exhibition titled ‘I am the Warrior’.
  • Provision of mentors for young/emerging artists so they can maximise the impact of the opportunity, and development of their professional practices.
  • The Theatre Store: a consortium of Independent Professional Theatre companies and Amateur Theatre companies turned an empty shop into a dynamic rehearsal, workshop and performance space during September 2010.  The programme is online at  This project led into Derby Festé  2010 – fitting the Festé USP of performance in unusual and unexpected places.
  • An empty shop became a pinhole camera for the Format International Photography Festival 2011.

Evaluation of phase 1: March 2010 – March 2011

  • Art in the City delivered a programme of arts exhibitions, events and workshops in empty shops in Derby city centre.
  • The statistics were garnered from evaluation reports submitted by artists
  • All grant funded activities were free at the point of entry for participants and audience members.
  • Many projects received 100% project grants; others chose to gain additional funding.
Facts Figures
Funded projects 44
People taking part 2645
Direct audience members (inside the shop, not passers by) 10,444
Professional artists involved in projects 560
Performances 122
Exhibition days 2,307
Sessions for people to take part (workshops, professional development, seminars) 300
New products of commissions 66
Employment for artists in days 409

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