A former furniture store in the Whitgift Shopping Centre is to be temporarily taken over by a consortium of local and neighbouring arts organisations.
Croydon Arts Store (CAS) will open its doors at the former site of Grange furniture store on Thursday 28 September and will provide a participatory visual arts and events programme with a focus on youth engagement and learning. Spread across four floors, Croydon Arts Store will hold arts workshops and activities, have an artist residency space, be the new home for artist-led project Turf’s ongoing free exhibition and public events programme, and host a research space to develop a Croydon biennial art exhibition in partnership with Kingston School of Art. There will also be a free bookable area available for young creatives to propose projects for the public programme – this can range from events, workshops, screenings, performances and more.
The store is a collaboration between Croydon Council; Turf Projects, a Croydon-based artist-run contemporary art space that hosts free exhibitions, workshops and events; Art Halo, an award-winning organisation working towards the vision of making high-quality art activity available to all; and Kingston School of Art which is recognised as one of the best art and design schools in teaching and research in Europe. The space was taken over with the support of the Croydon Partnership.
Croydon Arts Store is one of a number of meanwhile use projects being delivered as part of the Croydon Growth Zone, a £500 million programme of works being delivered by the Council in partnership with Transport for London and the Greater London Authority. Jointly financed by the Council’s Cultural Partnership Fund, it will provide the opportunity to explore the role of arts and culture in a shopping centre to assess how they can be integrated in future developments in Croydon.
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Croydon Arts Store is an exciting addition to the renaissance of our borough’s arts and culture. Croydon is full of creatives, evidenced by our significant street art movement and the wide cultural offerings across the borough. The arts store is the perfect location for young artists of all disciplines to contribute to the wider programme, while nurturing and developing their talents.”
Councillor Alison Butler, Cabinet Member for Homes, Regeneration and Planning, said: “Croydon Arts Store is a fantastic initiative and will add real value to the borough’s cultural provision. The transformation of an empty shop into a temporary art space enables activation and regeneration through art and creative businesses. It has many positive impacts, including increased footfall, visitor spend, youth engagement and providing opportunities for young people to develop new skills and training for future job opportunities, all of which will feed directly into Croydon’s overall growth.”
Professor Louis Nixon, Associate Dean Research, added: “Researchers from Kingston’s Contemporary Art Research Centre are delighted to be working in partnership with Croydon Council, Turf Projects and Art Halo to support the research space at Croydon Arts Store, where we will be engaging the wider academic community, local businesses and the public, to exchange ideas and practices towards the development of an international art biennale for Croydon in 2019.”