What is meanwhile use? What can it offer creatives looking for space, and what benefits does it bring for the city?
Creativity & Meanwhile Use
‘Introduction to meanwhile use’ is the first event in the Brighton & Hove ABCD programme Creativity and Meanwhile Use in Brighton & Hove. The programme will introduce the opportunities for accessing space in the city from the perspective of creative and cultural user groups, as well as how asset holders including landlords, developers and agents can make spaces available. Enablers, including local authority officers, councillors and members of Brighton’s business improvement district will also form part of the discussion around the wider benefits meanwhile use can bring to particular high streets and how it could meet challenges in a city where pressure on space is intense.
Brighton & Hove is a highly creative city, with culture and tourism at the heart of the economy. The creative and cultural industries – employing more than 16,000 people in Greater Brighton – suffered hugely through successive covid lockdowns, hit by cancelled work and closed spaces.
The city’s reputation as a creative innovator has long formed part of its identity and appeal, however the rapidly rising costs of living and working in the city risk pushing out the creative people on whom this reputation is built. If more is not done to increase access to space for the creative industries then the city will begin to lose its unique energy and character and culture and tourism will decline.
Meanwhile use is a tool that creatives can use to seek out and activate space. It can be colourful city centre pop-ups and high street shop takeovers. But in a city where these spaces are at a premium, it can also be a way to think about how to bring a diversity of spaces to the conversation and carve out opportunities from vacant sites, long-term vacant buildings, under-utilised upper floors and phased future developments. And it can seed creativity in under-served places. Not all user groups need prime location shop fronts – meanwhile use can find opportunities on secondary high streets for more impactful uses which bring activity and vibrancy to vacant spaces and local neighbourhoods, while covering costs for the landlord.
The thriving city centre commercial offer, relatively low levels of vacancy and difficulties accessing space, pose challenges for landlords, creatives and everyone who cares about the future of the city. How do the creative industries find the space they need to showcase, innovate, engage and ultimately grow? How can we utilise meanwhile and pop-up spaces to develop, test and grow these cultural and creative uses while looking for more permanent opportunities? How do projects access space to set up and deliver vibrant activities, and how do they do this safely?
Brighton & Hove’s current prosperity and success is supported by the strength of its creative and cultural industries. These industries will move out unless we act now to to unlock spaces for them to continue to flourish and grow.
Designed and delivered by pioneering social enterprise Meanwhile Space, in partnership with charity Meanwhile Foundation, this series of three practical and inspirational online events confront assumptions and offer solutions to challenges. They will be supported by a practical downloadable toolkit for user groups interested in setting up their own meanwhile spaces and landlords considering letting properties for meanwhile uses.
Visit Meanwhile Space to find out more…