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Empty shop pop-up pilot project launched will support local writers

Brighton & Hove City Council have launched a pilot project in partnership with Brilliant Brighton BID utilising previously vacant premises in the city centre to support local artists and arts organisations with short-term opportunities.

This pop-up opportunity involves The Book Makers, a volunteer-run community project supporting local writers, having a cost-only tenancy for a six month period in a formerly vacant property in Cranbourne Street.

The Book Makers, a new bookshop and learning space where established authors support writers from diverse backgrounds creating an environment to allow local writers to flourish, opened its doors on Wednesday 14 July.

A creation of local author William Shaw in collaboration with Brighton-based arts charity Creative Future, it is a welcoming environment for anyone who loves books, for those who want to learn more about writing, and where commercially successful writers mentor emerging, underrepresented authors.

The Book Makers were successful after an extensive search for potential locations for this project and a rigorous exploration of local arts organisations that would have the best chance to succeed.

Applications have now closed for this project and the pilot will run for six months, allowing Brighton & Hove City Council to monitor progress and assess the feasibility of similar projects in the future.

As part of this project Brighton & Hove City Council have also recently showcased local artists through a small series of window dressing commissions in formerly vacant shopfronts in the city centre, shining a light on some of the unique creative talent we have in Brighton & Hove.

William Shaw, author and co-creator of The Book Makers, said: “Bookshops have always been about more than just selling books. With The Book Makers, we’re building a space where established authors commit to welcoming new voices into the community of writers. It’s a place where people can learn about the craft – and business – of writing.

“The Book Makers is supported by local Brighton bookshop Goldsboro Books who are managing the shop’s retail content.

“A percentage of revenue from all sales goes to support the pop-up shop. Goldsboro’s Managing Director David Headley also runs the DHH Literary Agency and will be involved throughout the pop-up’s lifetime.”

Brighton-based arts charity Creative Future are running an engaging mentorship programme which lies at the heart of The Book Makers project. An arts organisation and charity, Creative Future specialise in supporting underrepresented writers, especially those facing barriers to opportunity.

In September, Creative Future New Writing South and Writers Mosaic will be starting a full programme of workshops in the space to further inspire creativity.

Councillor Martin Osborne, co-chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, said: “I am delighted to see The Book Makers project open alongside the art installations we have commissioned recently in previously vacant properties.

“One of the many things that make Brighton & Hove unique is the abundance of talented people and organisations in our arts and culture sector.

“It’s fantastic to hear all the exciting plans The Book Makers have for utilising the former vacant premises, for the next six months, on a cost-only basis where they otherwise may not have been able to do so.

“I’d also like to personally thank our partners Brilliant Brighton for all their work towards this project, it has been a mammoth job and I’m grateful for all their help in making this happen.

“I’d encourage all keen readers and aspiring authors alike to pop into The Book Makers as there truly is something for everyone.”

Find The Book Makers at 15-16 Cranbourne Street, Brighton, BN1 2RD.

Photography by Kitty Wheeler Shaw