Stowmarket opens a window of opportunity

Stowmarket’s high street could become a showcase for artists and creatives this summer with the launch of a pilot project to revitalise an empty shop window in the town.

The project is a collaboration between Mid Suffolk District Council, Stowmarket Arts CIC and Hypha Studios and is funded by the Suffolk Growth Town Centre Living with Covid Grant which supports projects that help revitalise town centres.

The shop, previously used by Cancer Research, will be transformed into a free exhibition space downstairs and a studio upstairs for use by creatives looking to engage with the local community and other town centre organisations without the usual high studio prices. Funding of up to £500 will be available to creative leads for the delivery of public activities.

The project will run for six months from May 2023, with changing exhibitions and activities to encourage residents and visitors to engage with culture in the town centre with the aim of developing a sustainable creative space in the future.

Any artists, makers or creatives who are interested in being part of the pilot project can submit an expression of interest through Hypha Studios before the April 16 deadline.

Commenting on the project, Harry Richardson, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic growth, said:” “This is a really exciting opportunity for Stowmarket as we look to revitalise a vacant shop window while also showcasing some home-grown talent.”

Hypha Studios, a charity matching creatives with empty spaces to support the regeneration of high streets will be responsible for selecting groups and individuals to occupy the space alongside Stowmarket partners.

Camilla Cole, founder of Hypha Studios, said: “Creativity is central to many communities and our newest open call in partnership will help us discover and support creatives in Stowmarket and more widely in Suffolk to bring new life to a vacant commercial space, transforming the unit into a not-for-profit exhibition space and studios for local and emerging talent.”

Launched in October 2022, Stowmarket Arts CIC aims to bring affordable creative activities to the town by offering free workshops and events.

Samanta Bell, founder, Stowmarket Arts CIC, added: “We are excited to welcome an artist into the Fox Yard as we launch the yard as the Design Quarter of Stowmarket. We hope that the project will give artists and creative makers a platform in the town centre while also engaging with the people of Stowmarket. It’s been a pleasure to work with Mid Suffolk District Council and Hypha Studios to make this all possible.”

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