Moves to turn an increasing number of empty shops in north coast towns into temporary ‘pop-up’ art galleries to revcitalise CBDs are gathering pace with Ballina Shire the latest to give the idea the green light.
Ballina councillors last week unanimously voted to seek expressions of interest from local artists and art groups to establish a ‘pop-up gallery/studio space’ in one or more of the coun cil-owned shops in the Wigmore Arcade.
The move was spearheaded by Greens Cr Jeff Johnson who said Council was considering redevelopment options for the arcade and was not looking to enter into long-term commercial leases.
‘All the current leases expire at the end of the year and Council staff plan to offer the existing tenants a month by month arrangement from the start of next year,’ Cr Johnson said.
‘This is an easy solution while we wait and see what is going to happen with the arcade, and it won’t cost much.
‘Wigmore Arcade could become more of a destination instead of a thoroughfare.
‘Pop-up galleries are one way to encourage more people back into the CBD. We need to find creative ways of encouraging them back into the CBD or more shops will close.
‘Currently there are some very prominent vacant shops in the heart of the Ballina CBD.
‘It would be great if our local artists could hold exhibitions and workshops in these shops. It wouldn’t cost much to provide some basic lighting, etc, and it would provide a major boost for our creative industries and other retailers in the Wigmore Arcade and the Ballina CBD.
‘I’m sure the other traders in town would love to have those empty shops filled and to see more people coming into town.’
Cr Johnson’s move was backed by the Ballina Arts and Craft Centre Incorporated (BACCI) and the Ballina Art Society, which would benefit from an inexpensive exhibition space and exposure of their artists.
Pop-up galleries have recently been established in Lismore and the Tweed, following a nationwide trend to revitalise business districts with many empty shops.