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Cultural Quarter pop-up programme continues in Crawley

The Cultural Quarter pop-up programme has been delivering a series of town-centre based arts and culture activities over the past year with further exciting events to come.


Working with the Cultural Quarter Steering Group, which has representatives from town centre-based business, cultural and heritage sectors, Pop-Up Programme Producer Paul Ackerley has developed a programme that aims to attract more footfall, test out and unlock new spaces including vacant and underused locations, as well as deliver activities for a vibrant town centre, helping new business growth in the cultural and creative industries.


The pop-up programme, funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities from the Towns Fund, has so far seen three art installations around the town centre, including Underexposed Arts' ‘Believe in Yourself’ portraits exhibited in County Mall in January this year, seen by some 40,000 people over 28 days, with an estimated 3,500 people spending time in the pop-up ‘gallery’. Several detailed vox pops commented on its value to their positive experience of Crawley.


Looking ahead, Crawley’s first Summer Contemporary Art Exhibition will take place from 4 to 8 July at Crawley Library. It is open to budding artists and encourages applications from all ages and abilities from professional to amateurs, working in any artwork medium, media, style and format. Either tag an image of your artwork with @popupculturecrawley on Instagram or upload a good quality image and email it to opencallcrawley@gmail.com.


In terms of unlocking new spaces, the pop-up programme adapted The Ancient Priors building, an empty retail or restaurant premises, to host seven events, giving it a total occupation of 23 event days over 13 months. Recently leased, the new managing agents reported that seeing it being used for vibrant activities drew it to their attention. It was successfully employed as a contemporary art gallery, a video game arcade, a workshop space for dance and visual arts, a production space for artists, and a venue for literary events.


While empty retail premises have been hard to secure as ‘pop-up’ venues, empty office premises were used to support a theatre company to rehearse and produce a new theatre production. Its subsequent performance generated economic activity for the catering, retail sector and night-time economy on the High Street.


Another exciting pop-up venue was a town centre barbers, which turned itself into an entertainment venue for the night in November with a great line-up of amazing local musicians.


A partnership with music charity AudioActive continues with more gigs planned in the coming months. As part of Crawley Town Centre BID’s Make Music Day on Friday 21 June, which brings a line-up of fantastic local musicians, across stage settings, open spaces and indoors venues throughout the town centre, Pop-Up Crawley alongside AudioActive will host a stage at Crawley Leisure Park featuring the very finest musicians.


The absence of established venues has placed an imperative on exploring temporary structures. In February, one of the commissioned creative partners Creative Crawley brought a shipping container into the town centre to enable a renowned artist to work with residents and display their work alongside theirs.


The pop-up programme has created a considerable number of opportunities for residents and artists to work with significant creative professionals and businesses boosting confidence and industry knowledge. In March, renowned cellist, Professor Laura Ritchie, demonstrated her research into cymatics – the visual representation of soundwaves, with young people from Crawley Film Initiative and a local literacy group at Crawley Museum as part of the museum’s science fiction week. The results will contribute to her forthcoming TED talk.


Crawley has a strong association with the digital industries and in June, the programme will be trialling a durational online game that turns into a live event in which the participants meet. In ‘Fathom’ by Goat & Monkey, players will follow the futures of two characters over two weeks from 17 to 30 June, helping them make choices and devising and enacting creative tasks following them towards their mystery town centre location. The production is written and hosted by game and theatre writers and involves a different and valuable industry sector. 


Councillor Sue Mullins, Cabinet member for Community Engagement and Culture, Crawley Borough Council said:

"It is great to see the Cultural Quarter pop-up programme developing at pace and bringing such fascinating arts and cultural activities to Crawley. It’s exciting to see some of the benefits that the programme is delivering and I would encourage the residents of Crawley to join in."





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