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Take action on Portas Review proposals

The Empty Shops Network has welcomed the government's response to the Portas Review into town centres.

Funding is being given to 100 towns from a new £10 million High Street Innovation Fun. £100,000 will be given to the 100 towns in England with the highest empty shops rates, and that funding can make a real difference to our failing town centres if it unlocks local potential.

However, it is being given to local authorities and a similar initiative under the last government saw mixed results, as councils could choose how to spend the money and were not held accountable for how effective their ideas were.

So we're calling for Grant Shapps, the minister reponsible for the money, to:

  • Encourage a Big Society approach, with local authorities urged to work with local residents, independent business and especially young people to form alternative Town Teams to tackle problems
  • A pledge from the government to measure, evaluate and report openly about how the money is used and the impact it has - with failure a perfectly acceptable outcome if it means testing ideas and innovative thinking
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Tom Pope "Time Bound"

For this Time-Bound pilgrimage artist Tom Pope will take a grandfather clock from London to CERN, near Geneva, and bury it at the central point of the Large Hadron Collider. The project seeks to explore a concept that everyone has a relationship with: time.

Departing at noon on Sunday March 25th 2012 from Golden Square in Soho, the centre of the London’s Circle tube line, Pope will take the grandfather clock in a hearse across Europe where a funeral will be held for it on Wednesday April 25th 2012.
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The W12 Centre Shepherds Bush – a bit like Westfield, but different.

The W12 Centre in Shepherds Bush now stands in the powerful and glamorous shadow of Westfield, which opened only several feet away a few of years ago. The W12 Centre started off life as a normal local shopping centre, but now is really only comprised of an Argos, a Peacocks, and a Poundland, alongside several empty units that haven’t been able to stand up to the new competition. So what do the little places do when the big guns move in? They seem to get creative.

Over the past few years the attempts by the W12 Centre to stay a float have at times been a little comical. There was the strange dance fashion show that took place on a Monday lunchtime, the fish nibbling pedicure tanks that were set up right next to the make-shift fruit and nut stands and an assortment of strange and jolly decorations that now hang from the ceiling all year round, including a giant plastic trainer with the word Morrisons embroidered along the side.

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Other Nature: Antlers Gallery, Bristol, launch an emerging scene of artists in London

Antlers Gallery is one of the most recent and intriguing editions to Bristol’s art scene. Launched in 2010 they represent an emerging group of artists who bring contemporary interpretations to traditional methods and subjects.

Central to all the artist’s work are skill-based practices, good draughtsmanship with a particular focus on drawing and painting. Works with strong narrative elements, pieces that evoke a sense of the uncanny and references to the natural world also unify the artists. For the first time this rapidly developing Bristol scene will be on show in London, with the Antlers curated show – ‘Other Nature’.
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She Makes... music in offices

On March 22nd She Makes War embarks on The Watercooler War Tour - performing 10 minute sets in offices in and around London and making a short film to raise awareness about water conservation on World Water Day.

Performing three of her most watery songs on acoustic guitar, ukulele and voice, Kidd also aims to prompt discussions around how we participate in and support live music by bringing workers together in their office's social space.

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Wanted; the Big Society fixer

You want to put on a street party, but the people helping you to organise are worried. What about health and safety? What about insurance? Isn’t it going to be a nightmare to get permission to close the road?

You want use an empty location or you want to use the local the park as a temporary comedy club, but the more you think about it, the more you can only see an unfurling map of headaches dealing with all the bureaucratic hurdles. You want create a floating craft market for the town, it will move around and pop up all over the place… a short-term sculpture park on an unused patch of land … you have a dozen ideas for doing things, and you want to manifest these great thoughts, but you dread the struggle.

In my decade as a local and national journalist, there was always a steady supply of stories about the problems people faced when they wanted to do something. Interviewing them, the frustration they felt always connected with me. These were clearly people who wanted to offer and do and who were thwarted by a system that seemed focussed on regulatory compliance rather than enabling its citizenry to act, to create. The refrain always the same: “I just wish someone would make all this stuff easy.” Or “I just want to be able to go and see one person and them to tell me what I need to do and help with the forms.” or “There are a lot of people at the council paid to stop things happening, who is being paid to make things happen?”

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Open Mic Night seeks new comedy acts

It's an Open Mic Night for Worthing family-friendly comedy hosts Matt's Comedy Club's first gig of 2012 at The Dome Function Suite on Thursday 8 March.

Physical comedian Richard Vobes (pictured) – who had a great response last year when he supported TV's surreal one-liner king Milton Jones – tops the bill and a host of acts old and new are promised.

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open submissions - PLAN.OPEN

PLAN.OPEN is an innovative series of group exhibitions at the new Arbeit Gallery near London’s infamous Old Street. International and UK based emerging artists working in 2D and 3D are invited to submit work. The theme is decided on a monthly basis and judged by representatives of Arbeit. The exhibitions are open to everyone with a low submission fee of £5 to create equal opportunities.

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Apply for studio space at Phoenix Brighton.

Phoenix Brighton runs a gallery, an education programme, residencies, events, and over 100 artists’ studios all under one roof. Working with local, national and international artists, Phoenix aim to provide a place for where imagination, experimentation, and discussion.

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Pigs Might Fly...

In January 2012, BRINK, will be presenting the works of seventeen local and regional artists in a new showcase at The Tiltyard in Leyes Lane, Kenilworth.

From Monday 16th January until Sunday 11th March 2012, Tiltyard visitors will have the opportunity to view works by established and emerging artists, portraying local landscapes and nature.