Project Vacant Lot is an initiative to try and formalise a strategy to make it easier for creatives to make and show work in unused spaces. It was started within the Central Station community by members.

Last week a cross-section of creative life in Glasgow met to pin down ways of progressing the project. This was a follow up to the first Vacant Lot session earlier in the year – an open-house brainstorming evening that saw thirty artists, film-makers and designers throw ideas around about making work in unused and derelict spaces.

Sat round the table this time were Bill Millett (artist / film-maker / photographer) and Tom Warren (architect & part of Govanhill Baths ART) who between them kick-started this project way back when. Also Leah & Ruth Black who are two thirds of The Gin Palace (design exhibited in unused spaces), Neil McGuire (designer & VisComm tutor at GSA), Kate Bowen (independent producer), Angie Bual (producer at the National Theatre of Scotland), Lex Lamb (small-media-large, a design agency) and yours truly (also a producer.) We were also joined by artist Janie Nicoll.

The idea of the session was to focus the myriad thoughts discussed at the first Vacant Lot open-house. Our main aim – to come up some practical next steps to take forward the impetus to make work in disused, derelict and vacant spaces on a strategic and potentially national (Scottish) level.

The following suggestions emerged, with the table in agreement that a few of key pieces of work need if we’re to move towards dovetailing the two key parties involved in Vacant Lot: namely i) the creatives in need of space and ii) the owners of unused spaces who might benefit from short term inhabitants.


1. Let’s build a portfolio of successful case studies of Vacant Lot projects. These don’t have to be Scottish examples. They don’t have to be British – why not look internationally at how people are doing this sort of thing? They do need to show what added value the project brought to the space and possibly to the area surrounding it. Ideally we’ll contact people involved in these case studies and involve them in Project Vacant Lot as ambassadors.


2. We need to quantify what developers / owners of unused space gain from hosting creative work. Why – ideally in financial terms – is it better to have creative work in an empty space than nothing at all? This information is probably the key that will persuade property owners to loan out their spaces.

3. We’ll list the funding bodies and trusts already supporting these kinds of project around the world would be useful. Alongside this we should create a list of potential organisations who might be interested in funding something Scotland-based.

4. We need to gather together a portfolio of key partners who at some point in the not so distant future might need to sit round a table to discuss a Project Vacant Lot strategy. Including city and borough council representatives, developers, politicians, representatives from Creative Scotland and so on.

Finally…and this is the fun bit…let’s work towards an actual Project Vacant Lot. What’s the point in strategy if you don’t get to practice what you’re preaching??

So then, here at Central Station we’re wondering whether our first birthday might be a good moment in time for a big old Vacant Lot shindig. Anyone fancy it? A creative festival that exists on here and in found spaces, some time in September / October. Sounds good, no?

And that’s just about it. Those of you who were at the meeting, please do expand on things I’ve undoubtedly missed. Those of you weren’t, add your thoughts below. And everyone, watch out for a short questionnaire we’ll be circulating shortly – probably via the medium of blog. We’d really like you to answer a few short questions to help us move this forward.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Vacant Lot, please see the rest of the blogs here.

Over and Out.