Empty Shop was an idea born out of frustration. It was a platform created to fill a void. A head-on attack on the creative boredom that dominated our teenage years growing up in a city without culture. An experience frustratingly amplified following our return to Durham after our inevitable escapes to university.

What we thought was a 6 month project became a snowballing idea; It was never a ‘business’, it was never a career.

Fast forward 9 years and 3 of us work on this full time. That’s an interesting achievement in itself for an organisation that actively avoids funding…


Reflections on Shifting Cultures, the 2021 North East Cultural Partnership Forum

There’s been a lot of talk this year about the ways in which virtual conferences just don’t hit the same spot as an “IRL” meet up. So it’s saying something that the Annual Forum by the North East Cultural Partnership (NECP), felt like a rare exception, with some feeling of liveness to the occasion.

Smoothly facilitated by the Gateshead International Festival of Theatre (GIFT) team, a conscious effort had been made to create space for discussion, shared lunch breaks and the all-important end-of-day drink and natter.

Shifting Cultures brought together a cross-section of the region’s cultural sector. Combined authorities, local…


A short reflection as part of Shifting Cultures, the NECP 2021 Annual Forum

The following is a 5 minute reflection was prepared for a panel discussion on leadership in the independent sector. The discussion was part of Shifting Cultures, the 2021 edition of North East Cultural Partnership’s annual forum. We understand that the full video of panel — and other discussions from the forum — will soon be available on the NECP website.

Hi, my name is Nick. As with many of you I do lots of different things and wear different hats in the cultural sector, one of which is being a Director of Empty Shop alongside Carlo Viglianisi who is here…


By Jeanie Finlay, Artist and Filmmaker

Note: Jeanie Finlay will be taking part in a follow up, online panel discussion and Q&A on Wednesday 16th September at 7pm - Register for free here

My name is Jeanie Finlay.

I am an artist from Teesside who by accident found the thing that brings me most joy — making films. I have made films about what happens behind the closed bedroom door of Teenagers (Teenland), about Goths in their 40s on a cruise ship to the Bahamas (Goth Cruise), and about the last surviving record shop in Teesside (SOUND IT OUT). Other…


By Soweto Kinch — multi award winning saxophonist, composer,poet, MC, producer and presenter.

Note: Soweto Kinch will be taking part in a follow up, online panel discussion and Q&A on Wednesday 15th July at 7pm - Register for free here

Introduction
The Covid-19 pandemic has bought all sorts of inequalities to the surface. Ostensibly, it’s hard to see what connects toppled slaver statues in Bristol, to George Floyd’s murder, to 60,000 excess deaths and the prospect of the deepest recession in 300 years. …


by Toby Olié co-artistic director of Gyre & Gimble

Two weeks before lockdown officially began, when social distancing was an emerging ideal, I was leading a puppetry training week with the cast of Regents Park Open Air Theatre’s production of 101 Dalmatians. There were over twenty performers in a small rehearsal room, all working in close proximity, operating puppets in small groups and collectively breathing for their canine counterparts — little did we know that all of those (relatively!) …


By Sarah Wilson-White

A post Covid-19 era.

Let’s take a moment to imagine that (impossible though it may feel now).

We can freely hug our loved ones, gather with strangers indoors, and the smell of alcohol hand gel might have finally left our nostrils.

The new world will smell and look familiar in lots of ways, but we’ll know things have changed forever, and undoubtedly our sense of collective identity - our culture - will reflect that.

Photo by Matt Hardy from Pexels

When tasked with the job of considering the challenges and opportunities facing the cultural sector post-pandemic, my list fell more heavily on the…


By Paul Gudgin

Image by @davemullenjnr

None of us are likely to forget 2020 in a hurry. We’ve gone from an incredibly buoyant and fertile festival and event landscape to a wasteland in a matter of weeks as events from Glastonbury to Glyndebourne have cancelled in quick succession

It may be cold comfort for concerned culture and event managers wondering how on earth they are going to survive, but this crisis has underlined just how much we need culture and events in our lives.

Whether it’s Grayson Perry’s Art Club or Gareth Malone’s Great British Home Chorus, we have seen a huge hunger…


The Inevitable Conclusion of a TESTT Space

Mick Stephenson, ‘First Light’ , 2019

We’ve got some news to share so this is a slightly different blog post.

At 30 months and counting we recently received the inevitable tap on the shoulder from our landlords.

By the end of this year, TESTT Space will be no more.

As the plans for North Road and the redevelopment of Durham Bus Station progress, we make way for the future.

When we leave at the end of 2019 we’ll have had 3 springs, 3 summers, 3 autumns and 3 winters in the building.

To date we’ve hosted 15 shows, dozens…


Originally presented at Experimental Research in Space at Baltic 39, 2 May 2019

This article was presented verbally as part of Baltic39’s Reorganising Cultural Institutions conference. As such this is the source material of the presentation , including speaker notes, rather than a verbatim record.

(INTRO) Hello, my name is Nick Malyan, I’m one of the Co-Directors of Empty Shop CIC. The name comes from our beginnings in a literal ‘empty shop’- what was meant to be a 6 month, pop up gallery project in 2009.

This was before the term ‘pop-up’ was even popularised. 10 years later and somehow…

Empty Shop CIC

Art // Regeneration // Collaboration. Empty Shop CIC is a not-for-profit arts organisation and practice-based consultancy from the North East of England.

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