North arts consortium examines the potential of the Future High Street’s fund and beyond

When the Future High Street’s Fund was launched by the government in December 2018, East Street Arts joined a group of arts organisations, operating predominantly in the north to initiate a conversation about the opportunities and challenges of the new initiative.

Since then the group, also consisting of NewBridge Project, Castlefield Gallery, Axis Web and Skippko, has been meeting to discuss how we can promote what we do, based on our different approaches and models to revitalise High Streets using meanwhile space, advocating for artists and examining the contributions they make to our cities and towns. 

As a group of organisations operating in temporary space over a 10 year period, our combined portfolio is made up of 1,944 properties that’s supported over 2,733 artists in our meanwhile space and see audiences of over a million engage with our programmes.

The Consortium will produce a publication showcasing the depth of our expertise in operating place-based meanwhile models, put forward our ambitions and recommendations for the use of meanwhile models as a tool for longer term regeneration and advocate for the role of artists as we rebuild our high streets and towns in a post-retail, post covid landscape.  


Meanwhile use is not merely a series of patched solutions to market failure it has potential to be a much more ambitious and visionary exercise in re-engaging our communities and sustaining the creative industries within our town centres.

Demonstrating the case that the meanwhile narrative doesn’t represent the way we work and how we want to work in the future. We need to shift the focus to how our sector can be a long term ingredient in the ecosystem on the high street and  beyond, looking at how we shift from meanwhile models to ensure greater permanency and sustainability for art spaces in the north.

We hope that this report is one starting point for recommending new and innovative ways in which cultural meanwhile space use can be used as a catalyst to rebuild our towns and cities.

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