Meanwhile Space – Whitechapel

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Meanwhile Space Community Interest Company used an empty building in Whitechapel as a pop-up space. They did not do any programming, but the space was kept a blank canvas so people could project their own ideas upon it. Local people with good ideas were then given space for a certain amount of time to try out their own initiatives.
This concept led to a wide range of activities taking place, attracting a variety of people from the community. Projects included:

– Workshops
– Art shows
– Family days
– Theatre performances

In 89 days, the space hosted 37 projects and attracted approximately 200 visitors a day. One highlight was the Market Fair, which attracted 2,400 visitors. 2 enterprises started from the space and continued their work elsewhere.

How did they do it?
Meanwhile Space CIC persuaded a local landlord in Whitechapel to allow an empty building to be used for local artists, start-up businesses and others for 3 months. Normally landlords have to pay business rates when using a space and are likely to pass these costs onto anyone taking up a lease. Meanwhile Whitechapel used a local charity to take up the lease to qualify for business rate discount (up to 80%).

Organisations themselves arranged for Public Liability Insurance (requirement to use the space). The space was promoted with printed material distributed directly from the shop. To spread information to a wider range of people, they made use of the networks of local cultural organisations, such as Whitechapel Gallery, Toynbee Hall and Bow Arts. They also undertook viral marketing through online communities of interest such as Twitter and Ning. The costs for the redecoration of the space were kept to a minimum by using recycled materials and furniture.