I began recognising the issues facing the high street over the last few years, and started making plans to make changes in my local community. As an experienced trader at hundreds of craft fair events, my dream was always to have my own shop, but I soon realised that in today’s climate it would be very hard to make this financially viable.
Instead, I identified an empty, neglected area of Chorlton and liaised with the estate managers to find out if there was any chance that I could use the area to create something good for the whole community. My goal is to turn this grey, dead space into something colourful and which will actually be used.
As I began formulating my plan of action, I started to seek out people who shared my vision and who had the skills to help get the project off the ground. Out of this, we have formed Chorlton Revival – our constitution aims being “to regenerate neglected areas in the Chorlton environs, using design, artistry and other creative innovations, to make useable, enjoyable and accessible spaces for all local residents and to facilitate independent trading”.
I also recognised that alongside with the regeneration plans, the space also had the potential to be used for something else. This lead to plans to create a new monthly market, specifically selling locally produced art and high quality design (from my own experiences, I have realised that the quality of the work on offer has to be paramount in order for the market to be a success). In addition to this, the long term goal would be to attract local creative businesses and organisations to use the market as an opportunity to promote themselves and their work.
Having been involved in various Chorlton Arts Festival projects, I recognised the amount of talented local artists and creative people who live and work here. Many are self-employed (such as myself) and work hard to make a living selling their work online and at fairs and markets all over the country.
It is my belief that due to the location of the market, it will benefit not only the market traders, but also the surrounding businesses. It will also turn a large unused space into a community hub and become a place that people will make a special effort to visit. The market will become an opportunity for local people to build up a face for their business and raise their profile, and at the same time, build up connections and contacts with each other. This will then in turn help their businesses to grow and build a stronger sense of local identity.