Former retail unit brought back into community use

An empty retail unit is being put to good use at the Longton Exchange Shopping Centre.

The community arts space will be used to stage exhibitions, workshops and creative events. It also has an art studio upstairs.

The creative hub is the brainchild of Dave Hawkins who has spent almost two decades buying and selling vinyl records. On the wall he has created a mini gallery of unusual art work from album covers and is also staging regular record fairs in the space.

Activities at Longton Creative Space have already included workshops in block printing, lino cutting, craft, poetry and drawing. 

"Our aim is to have a space where members of the community can be involved,’ said Dave.

"‘People in Stoke on Trent are warm and sociable. We are aware of issues like mental health and loneliness and we want to provide somewhere for people to come along and take part in creative activities. 

"We are looking for people to run courses and welcome ideas from anyone who would like to be involved."

Longton Creative Space also offers bespoke framing of music and film memorabilia.

Dave attends record fairs around the country and has a passion for music, particularly jazz.

"Originally it was men of a certain age who collected records but is it all generations and all sexes now,’ he said. ‘You can find someone at a record fair in their seventies talking to someone in their twenties about music.

"If it is the right record on the right record player it has its own very particular warmth and quality of sound. There is also art involved. Certain labels are famous because of the photography and typography on the record sleeves."

People have travelled from a 70 miles radius to visit Dave’s record fairs at Longton Exchange.

The new creative space has the backing of the shopping centre. Manager Yvonne Moulton said: "We are delighted to support this creative space which is a great addition to the centre and a real asset for the local community.

"We are keen to ensure that Longton Exchange is somewhere people can shop, use services and spend their leisure time."

The centre is home to over 40 retail units including independents and household names like Iceland, Boots and Poundland.  

For more information contact creativespacelongton@gmail.com or telephone 07704 300304 

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