Martin Bright

Can the Artists Transform Our High Streets?

Text settings

It can't have escaped people's notice that shops in our high streets are being boarded up at quite an alarming rate. I've noticed it in central London, but also in north Wales last week and in Sussex and Surrey this week. Lewes was looking particularly down-at-heel as I passed through: like it was bracing itself for something even more awful.

I felt mixed emotions at the Guardian's piece on the re-use of shops by artists. For all sorts of reasons, I am cheered by the fact that creative people are thinking their way out of the recession. But at the same time this really does confirm just how bad things have become. The Young British Artists may have benefitted from cheap studios and the squatter lifestyle of the late eighties and early nineties but no one would have wished this on the next generation.

And it will be so much hardr this time, now that it's so much more difficult to squat legally and near impossiblen to live on the dole.