Empty Shops

Dan Thompson Dan is the founder of the Empty Shops Network, and an expert in the creative use of empty shops. He has pioneered the use of shops as high street community hubs. The ways he has used Twitter, Facebook and Flickr to create and manage projects has seen him recognised as a social media innovator.

He has written the Empty Shops Toolkit in 2010 (For the MLA, as part of Living Places), a follow on from the Empty Shops Workbook in 2009 (For the Development Trusts Association, commissioned by the Department of Communities & Local Government). He has also written a Void Space Strategy for Coventry City Council and an Empty Shops Strategy for Worthing Arts Council.

He has penned articles for magazines and journals including New Start, Mailout and a-n the Artist’s Newsletter.

He has been a passionate advocate in the media, being interviewed by Hugh Pym for BBC News, appearing with Tracey Emin in Margate for Meridian, taking about the future of pop-up shops in a G2 special, taking part in a viral ad campaign for Yell and being featured in Lucy Siegle’s The Innovator column in The Observer Magazine.

As a speaker, Dan has talked to the University of the Arts Alumni at the ICA, London (2010); at RIBA’s Guerilla Tactics (2009); at Chain Reaction at Canary Wharf (2009); Gloo in Portsmouth (2010); at AIR Time events in London, Brighton and Belfast (2009-10); at the E17 Art Trail (2009); at Central St Martins Graduate Week (2009) and at the launch of Spacemakers and their Brixton Village project (2009). In June 2010, he flew to Belfast to speak alongside Northern Ireland Assembly minister Sammy Wilson MP at the launch of the city centre’s first empty shops project, organised by architecture centre PLACE and Arts & Business.

In 2009, he hosted the first national Empty Shops Conference; and in 2010 organised the first national Empty Shops Tour which took projects, workshops and networking events to London, Shoreham by Sea, Carlisle and Coventry with the support of the Development Trusts Association. In July 2010, he ran a project in Seven Dials for the Culture Quarter Programme, creating a temporary exhibition with thirty participants from Create KX,The Design Council, ENO, Exhibition Road Group, Hospital Club, National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House,the Royal Opera House and the V&A.

From December 2010-March 2011 he ran two parallel projects, exploring the idea of creating high street community hubs under the ‘Workshop’ name - Workshop 1A in Shoreham by Sea supported by the trustees of St Mary De Haura church, and Workshop 24 in South Kilburn supported by South Kilburn Neighbourhood Trust.

In August 2011, Dan’s work with empty shops, high streets and independent shops inspired him to launch the #riotcleanup, a practical response to the London riots.