The whitewash paint has gone. Now the windows of a prominent empty unit in Wantage town centre features the work of a group of local artists. It’s the latest initiative by Wantage Town Team as part of their work to improve the look of empty town centre units while work to sell or let them continues.
Work by members of the Wantage Art Group features in a display behind the widows of the former Hodson’s estate agency unit on the corner of Market Place and Newbury Street. It follows an intervention by Wantage Mayor, Cllr Steve Trinder, who wrote to the trustees of the fund that owns the building to ask if the art work could replace the whitewash and improve the look of the unit for the benefit of its neighbours and the town as a whole, until a new occupier is ready to move in.
Cllr Trinder says: “I was asked to write to the managers of the property and they were really helpful. I was concerned that the look of the empty unit detracted from the overall appearance of the Town, and that has now changed.”
The pop up exhibition features 24 pieces of work by members of the Wantage Art Group. Founder, Patsy Jones, says: “It’s great to get the opportunity to show some of our members’ work, whilst improving the look of one of the shop fronts in town. If anyone is interested in finding out more about the art group, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wantageartgroup.co.uk.”
The initiative is part of one of the roles of the town team, to work with landlords and agents to help overcome barriers to empty town centre units being let. Market Town Co-ordinator, Mim Norvell, who’s worked with the art group to set up the exhibition, says: “There are times when a unit that becomes available has to be sold before it can be let to a new occupier, and this often means that process can take longer. As a town team we try to do what we can to have those units look as good as possible in that time. We’re very grateful to our Mayor for his role in making this possible, to the trustees of the building for their agreement, and of course to the members of Wantage Art Group for creating the exhibition of their excellent work.”
The unit is being sold by local agent Green & Co, who say there has been positive interest in it, but that there is background work to be done before a sale can go through and it’s likely to be the new year before that’s completed. The total number of empty and available units in Wantage town centre is now back in single figures after a spring/summer increase in numbers, and further new openings are planned before the year’s end.
Wantage town team led by Market Town Co-ordinator, Mim Norvell, is part of a town vitality initiative funded by the Vale of White Horse District Council, and supported by Wantage Town Council, Grove Parish Council and Wantage & District Chamber of Commerce through the Wantage Joint Economic Forum (JEF).