With over 50 premises currently empty in Yeovil Town Centre, South Somerset District Council has commissioned a local artist to put the spotlight on the vacant shops and explore Yeovil’s self-image through art and music.
Artist, Simon Lee Dicker and students from Yeovil College Music Department will fill Yeovil Town Centre on Saturday 15 June, where you will be able to hear multiple live performances of the song ‘Pretty Vacant’ with a backdrop of large-scale prints on vacant shop windows throughout the Town Centre. The visual art will be in place until the end of July, unless the project is so successful it gets displaced by incoming businesses.
The live performances from the students at Yeovil College’s Music Department will take place at The Quedam, Vicarage Walk between 2pm and 5pm. Performances start on the hour.
Yeovil currently has more than 50 empty premises across the town centre. This is spread through all the shopping streets but is particularly evident in Middle Street and the Quedam Centre. There is a similar picture in towns up and down the country and in many locations short term tenancies by community groups, artist collectives and new business incubation schemes have created temporary and mid-term solutions, encouraging social engagement and preventing neglect and vandalism.
Following a report by Mary Portas, the Government ran a national competition for towns to encourage local partnerships and consortiums to come up with innovative ideas about how to stimulate town centre economy by transforming their local high street into a social place, bustling with people, services and jobs. The successful “Portas Pilots” received funding to help with these new initiatives and the Arts Council England pledged additional support to encourage creative activities as part of the programme. Although Yeovil’s bid to become a “Portas Pilot” was unsuccessful, South Somerset District Council received funding through the High Street Innovation Fund; the Arts Council therefore offered support to the authority to develop an art based project in the town.
Councillor Sylvia Seal, portfolio holder for Leisure & Culture said, “It’s great to see the young people from Yeovil College involved in this creative and innovative approach to bringing people into the town. We hope that projects like this can help to stimulate high street vitality, support local businesses and re-establish the social aspect of the town centre.
“We are grateful to the Arts Council for offering support to this art based project in the town.”