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New life for recession hit shops - 03.12.09

An empty shop front has been temporarily transformed into a community art space in the latest phase of Sutton Council's Economic Recovery Plan.

The former Gallery Gifts shop, in Sutton's Times Square shopping centre will show a series of monthly exhibitions by local artists, schools and community groups while it waits for a new tenant.

The first exhibition was created by Year 10 and 11 students at Nonsuch High School for Girls. On display until the New Year, 'Sutton Surfaces' is a chance to see some of the borough's best images from this year's Photography GCSE course work.

Art teacher Bill Gurney said,

"This is an excellent opportunity for the students to prepare their own exhibition. They will hang the photos, create an explanation of their exhibition and organise their own launch event with VIPs. The work is exciting and of a high standard."

Sutton Council worked together with the centre's management to make the unit available to local artists while it waits for new tenants.

On the high street, the former Sussex Stationers shop has also found a temporary use as a set for Channel 4 sitcom, 'Phoneshop' and recently to display information about the High Street Regeneration project.

Sutton town centre has responded to the recession much better than other areas in the UK with vacancy rates falling to less than 10%.

Cllr Lyn Gleeson, Executive Member for Economic Renewal on Sutton Council said,

"Working together with Time Square, we've transformed a vacant shop into a dynamic community art space.

"The project not only provides space for artists and community groups to promote their work; it also raises the profile of the property being used; and enables culture to help regenerate parts of town affected by the recession."

For more information about the Economic Recovery Plan or High Street Regeneration project, visit

Last updated: Monday, 07 December 2009

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