Much is being written, by people more knowledgeable than me (like Dan Thomson who runs the empty shops network ) about how to turn the problem of empty shops in our high streets into an opportunity. As someone who is involved in the tourism industry I’m also keen to see that our high streets don’t die but evolve into places that people want to visit. I have a personal interest in encouraging Kent’s coastal high streets to thrive as I live in Whitstable on the Kent coast and am a regular visitor to other coastal towns nearby, including, Rochester, Faversham, Herne Bay, Margate, Ramsgate, Deal and Folkestone. I also run the Kent’s Creative Coast campaign to encourage people to visit and stay in Kent’s coastal towns to enjoy creative activities and happenings.
Earlier this week I started a conversation on twitter by saying that I thought late night opening could help Kent’s coastal towns survive and thrive. I was encouraged by how many independent traders responded saying that they thought that this was a good idea. I’d now like to know if people would be interested in going out in the evening in Kent’s coastal towns to enjoy a type of cafe culture commonly found in ‘warmer’ European towns like Italy’s *La Passeggiata.
If enough shop and venue owners and potential visitors are interested I’d be keen to try and make this happen with other local people, business and venue owners. Maybe we could encourage shops, cafes and arts venues to open late on Friday evenings in the summer or try to tie in with Turner Contemporary’s monthly late night live openings in Margate. Other venues like Creek Creative in Faversham, the Horsebridge in Whitstable and the Astor Theatre in Deal or the Creative Quarter in Folkestone might also be interested in taking the lead on this? You might be a creative person who would be interested in staging a creative happening or event in a shop or cafe or restaurant. You might own a shop or run a venue. You might be someone who never ventures out in the evening but would do so if you thought there was something happening on the street. Whoever you are and whatever your idea I’d be love to know what you think. Please add your comment here or contact me; catriona @ create in kent dot co dot uk
*with thanks to Susan Hubbard