If you’re in Magherafelt town centre, you might notice something new happening on Broad Street. Mid Ulster District Council is working with Portstewart based theatre company, Big Telly, to turn a shop on Broad Street (formerly House of Flowers) into a brand new creative space to inspire and engage the local community.
Creative Shops 2 is a three year programme of creative residencies (funded by The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation) that happen in empty shops in towns or villages, and Magherafelt is the latest place to be added to the list. The aim is to engage communities in creative activity and practice, and increase access to the arts, making it part of everyday life. It also aims to breathe life into vacant shops and energise high streets - bring a bit of colour, life and craic to the place!
The Magherafelt shop is undergoing a transformation by artist Laura Nelson, who is fittingly taking the theme of flowers to create a new interior for the shop. The Mid Ulster Craft Collective members will also be involved and from now until 15th December, holding a series of ‘Meet the Maker’ sessions, demonstrations and workshops.
At today's launch of the project, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake said, “Creative Shops 2 is a genuinely participatory programme of creative activity that engages the whole community, and encourages local business and traders to be part of the town’s cultural and creative landscape. It builds networks, connecting people and place, encourages new audiences and helps regenerate places by helping communities see how things can be done differently.”
Fran Porter, Development Manager, Big Telly, says, “It shouldn’t always be about theatres or art centres or places where often people don’t feel that comfortable going. We like to put theatre in towns and on streets, or have things happening that are unexpected, so empty shops are perfect.
“A Creative Shops project can be the catalyst for so many spin off projects to happen. Because there is a hub and an artist/director in situ, we are constantly amazed at the scope for additional activity that just somehow ‘fits’ with or can be facilitated by the Creative Shop.”
For details of the project, visit www.midulstercouncil.org/CreativeShopsMagherafelt or if you have an idea for a theatre performance, arts exhibition or creative event that you’d like to see happening, join the conversation at www.facebook.com/visit.magherafelt
Pictured at the launch of the latest Creative Shops 2 Project in Magherafelt are (L-R) Paul Fisher, Ulster Bank; Fran Porter, Development Manager, Big Telly; Mark Stewart, Chair of Magherafelt Town Forum; Laura Nelson, Artist; and Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake.