Shops Upfront was an initiative facilitated by Culture Liverpool to enable artists to access empty retail units for short term exhibitions, workshops and art events, jointly funded by Department of Communities and Local Government, Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council. The programme was developed to improve the look of the high street and animate the empty retail units whilst giving local artists a platform for their work.
The benefits to artists were obvious – they received funding to platform their work in a quirky and prominent location. The benefits for property managers/owners included press coverage and promotion of their property and reductions and exemptions on business rates.
Over 400 artists were commissioned, over a total period of 1060 exhibition and event days in 9 empty retail venues across the city centre with a combined audience of over 600,000. Projects ranged from fashion shows, to poster exhibitions, to cooking demonstrations to live sci-fi theatre!
Partners on this project included Merepark, CBRE, Grosvenor, Core and Metquarter.