Friday, 17 April 2009

Slack space?

Temporary schools of thoughts are one thing, but the Guardian has recently reported on the growing 'slack space' movement as a possible way forward for artists occupying disused buildings.

Slack space? They define it as, space caused by business closures during recessions that provides a foothold for numerous successful businesses. The article discusses how one in six shops will be vacant by the end of the year and the ways that local artists are reworking the empties, ie. a vacant Woolworth's becoming a community cafe, a papier mache business taking root in a former greengrocer's.

Is this a form of squatting or just another moneymaking enterprise? The article thinks it might be the former: "Artists and curators have begun colonising "slack space" freed up by the recession and are transforming vacant shops into "creative squats", galleries and studios." Make up your own mind here.


Meanwhile, with businesses shutting down by the dozen in these recession'd times, UK ministers this month have outlined a series of emergency measures to prevent the rise of ghost towns as a result.

Part of their plan includes giving thousands of grants to people who can find creative uses for vacant shops. The article describes this new UK law as coming halfway to meet potential squatters: "Planning rules will be relaxed to allow changes of use which go against local guidelines. Temporary lease agreements will enable owners who want to retain a vacant property in the long term to make it available for community or creative use."

More of this grassroots 'slack space' movement? Read here.