PAIGNTON Innovation Centre tenant, Jeremy Holloway, spent 34 years working in the theatre business. Now he is hoping to use his skills to bring more people into town centres across Torbay organising art and theatre performances in empty spaces and shops.
Jeremy has set up the Transient Theatre Company, a not-for-profit making company based at the Vantage Point Innovation Centre, run by Torbay Development Agency, and is working with the Torbay Town Centres Company and Torbay Council's Creative Torbay team, to develop ideas to bring additional shoppers into Torquay, Paignton and Brixham town centres.
Jeremy explained: "There are so many possibilities such as pop-up theatre, flash mobs, streaming films onto buildings, singing events, dancing or puppetry which will attract more people into the town centres.
"I want to work with landlords of empty shops and also existing shopkeepers. The model does work – it's currently working very successfully in Leeds and Bradford."
And Jeremy, who has an honours degree and masters in Arts Management together with five years lecturing in performing arts and arts management at South Devon College, says a cohesive approach will be needed to help the project succeed.
"There's got to be a collaborative response," he said. "Nationally more than 11 per cent of shops are empty. The Government empty shop scheme came in two years ago and the Mary Portas review has also highlighted the issue. Funding will need to be found but the concept can only be advantageous for shopkeepers."
Jeremy is currently seeking funding for the project which he hopes will also utilise the performing arts students from the college. And he said the Innovation Centre is providing an ideal office base for the project, providing a good environment to work in and helping him to set up the company.
Torbay Mayor, Gordon Oliver, said: "The prosperity of Torbay's three town centres is extremely important to Torbay Council.
"We are working with the Torbay Town Centres Management Company, the TDA and other organisations to increase footfall and spend and encouraging more independent shops to open. Utilising empty shops and spaces is another great way of supporting our retailers."
Torbay Development Agency chief executive, Steve Parrock, said: "I am very pleased that our South West Innovation Centres can offer the right facilities to nurture such a diverse range of businesses that we have as tenants.
"Transient Theatre Company is a welcome addition to the 100 tenants we have at our four innovation centres, and I wish them well with their initiative to work with our partners in Torbay Council and the Town Centres Management Company to bring an extra dimension to Torbay's attractive town centres."
Ian Broadfoot of the Torbay Town Centre Management Company said: "We are looking forward to working with Jeremy to develop his ideas on how the Transient Theatre Company can animate empty shops with artistic projects, and I'm very pleased that his operation is doing well at one of the TDA's innovation centres."