‘Creative Shops’ brings new life to vacant site in Carrick

Some of the "Creative Shops" participants.
Some of the "Creative Shops" participants.

An innovative new programme which breathes new life into otherwise vacant shops proved a”huge success” in Carrick recently.

The town welcomed the Big Telly Theatre Company, in association with the council’s Arts Development and Economic Development departments to deliver a creative shops project.

“Creative Shops” is a programme of theatre, arts and community partnerships, which are showcased in vacant premises in town centres across Northern Ireland.

The creative activities that took place at Market Place included street performances of “A Carrick Fairy Tale”, “Stories by the Sea”, a sci-fi creative writing workshop and “Photos From the Past” competition.

Alongside dog shows with a difference, slime-making sessions and window theatre, the shop also hosted a “Funpalace “as part of a national project for communities, and began a regular drama group.

Mid and East Antrim Mayor Cllr. Lindsay Millar, said: “Well done to everybody involved in this brilliant project in Carrickfergus.

“These events created a really great buzz in the town centre and drew in locals and visitors.

“Growing the economy is our council’s number one priority and our high streets are crucial to that.

“Thank you to all those who took part and I look forward to similar initiatives in the borough in the near future.”

Lee Robb, from Positive Carrick, said: “This project has had a profound impact on those of us who got involved by making space for and unleashing the creativity of people in Carrick and helping to create a sense of community.

“I was most struck by how creativity helps to create a sense of connection to a place and the people who live there and Big Telly reflecting Carrick back to us so positively helped us to see it with fresh eyes.

Big Telly’s Zoe Seaton said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by how engaged and positive Carrick people have been.

“The shop has been one of our most active with local people really pulling together for creative activity to happen in the town.

“Our shop director, Louise, has been particularly amazed by how generous people are with stories and heritage of Carrickfergus and how talented its young people are. We think Carrickfergus has more to offer, and it’s a fantastic town and one we’d love to work in again.”

Earlier this year, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council launched its economic strategy, Amplify, in order to set out a blueprint for future growth and create a more vibrant business culture, promoting and supporting innovation and entrepreneurship.

Amplify identifies emerging sectors which will help boost business opportunities within the borough and focuses on boosting employment and improving skills.