Goodbye Empty Shop HQ

Empty Shop HQ Update!

It’s been 5 months since our last event at Empty Shop HQ and the end of what we think of as ‘Version 2’ of that space. Since then we’ve sat back for a little while and allowed some time for Version 3 to present itself organically. We wanted to leave space for something to emerge.

In short, it hasn’t.

Skeleton Hobo by AnotherMark

Empty Shop is an organisation that in its simplest form uses ‘empty shops’ and other dead spaces until they redevelop. HQ is no different. As with the 41 other spaces we have used it was always intended to be temporary.

‘Semi permanent’ is a phrase we used a lot in the early days. HQ was taken on for 3 years rather than a few months. At the time, being in our early twenties, three years felt just that — almost permanent.

Still, we planned to be there for a while before moving on — as it turns out it that took 9 years to happen instead of 3!

Running HQ has been great fun but it’s also been incredibly beneficial to us and to the city.

We set out to create a platform for visual artists and very quickly other practitioners came knocking. Our use of the space evolved in response to those who needed it at the time. We spent nearly a decade in the building working that way and it taught us invaluable lessons about what it means to be at the heart of a community.

At the same time we always knew that the redevelopment of the neighbouring shopping centre would eventually find its way to our unit and we’d be out.

We never thought however, that our use for the space would see it’s conclusion before that development reached us. Yet that’s exactly what’s happened and so we’re moving out - before the developers move in.

Which means, this is it. We have officially handed in our notice and will be leaving unit 35C in less than 30 days.

To paraphrase the great Wyclef Jean, we’ll be gone by November.

The new ‘Empty Shop HQ’ at TESTT Space.

So what does that mean for Empty Shop as an organisation?

It doesn’t change anything at an organisational level — we were never a venue, even if we did run one. HQ was one of many things we do and having moved on we’re now busier than ever.

Accordingly we’ve taken on a studio of our own at TESTT Space. While a single room is a bit smaller than HQ the studio is now our centre of operations — a more traditional headquarters for the organisation but equally appropriate we feel.

Anyway, here’s a list of some of the stuff we’re up to at the moment:
* Running TESTT Space
* Developing
DJAZZ: The Durham CIty Jazz Festival
* Supporting Durham Miners Association with the ongoing development of
Redhills: Durham Miners Hall
* Guest lecturing at local universities and colleges
* Practise based consultancy — including t aking on two properties in Hartlepool as part of the Tess Valley Great Places programme.

We’re always up to something and there’s usually a project or two in the pipeline, which means you can continue to engage with our work — even if it’s not quite what you think of as your version of ‘Empty Shop’.

Keep your eyes peeled for more blog posts, or if you want to stay up to date more regularly we’re pretty good at sticking stuff out through social media. Alternatively you can always drop us an email. You’ll find various links below.

See you soon,

Carlo & Nick