A playful but poignant pop-up art exhibition highlighting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the creative sector and local businesses is in Newcastle-under-Lyme’s Town Centre.
The exhibition has been brought to the High Street by Appetite, who have partnered with Newcastle BID, with the support of Newcastle Borough Council, to work with DUST Rising to bring ‘Every Other Seat’ to the town centre.
The Every Other Seat pop-up features a fascinating display of seats designed and created by artists and attempts to highlight the impact of the current health crisis on the arts and town centres. The exhibition of seats will appear initially in the former Dorothy Perkins shop window in the Roebuck Centre, with plans to expand to further shops in coming weeks.
The original Every Other Seat exhibition took place last summer in Hanley funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID and the latest Newcastle exhibition will expand the number of pieces displayed including newly commissioned works, including seats from art students from Newcastle College and Regent College. Two newly commissioned poems, by local poets Gabriella Gay and Stephen Seabridge, will also form part of the exhibition.
Appetite Director Gemma Thomas said: “Appetite are thrilled to be able to support DUST Rising in presenting their exhibition in Newcastle. It adds to the growing swell of work we are presenting in the town centre in line with current restrictions, which we will build on once lockdown eases. Just as the High Street and restrictions are changing and evolving, so will the exhibition, showing additional seats within further shop windows over coming weeks. It is brilliant that art students from local colleges are involved and producing work. It’s so important they can have the chance to show their work in public and we can’t wait to see the results.”
Director of DUST Rising Joyce Iwaszko said: “Taking place in Newcastle Town Centre this popup exhibition will explore and highlight the role that the arts, the theatre and creative people have in the regeneration and the development of a thriving town centre. We hope it will also remind people that artists and performers are crucial to the wellbeing of a town, particularly after an event such as Covid-19.”
Amy Williams, Newcastle-under-Lyme BID Manager said: “By reflecting on these extraordinary times, Every Other Seat is a novel concept, borne out of a desire to attribute a theme pertinent to the thousands of theatre seats that have stood empty and redundant for months during lockdowns in the still and silent auditoriums near and far away where the seats act as a symbolic reminder for the loss of the familiar and vibrant, cultural richness that theatre and art brings to our lives.”
Simon Tagg, leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: “The reasons why people visit and use high streets continue to change across the country, something which has been accelerated by the pandemic. We’re playing a critical role in shaping the future of our town centre by helping it to respond and adapt to long-term trends – making the most of opportunities – while supporting local businesses in these unprecedented times by distributing grant funding. We have exciting redevelopment plans in the pipeline thanks to more than £11 million from the Future High Streets Fund and are making great strides in breathing new life into our historic market.
“We really welcome and support other efforts to make the town centre more vibrant and exciting. Appetite is absolutely brilliant at what it does and it’s fantastic that it’s been able to make a series of exhibitions work, for residents’ enjoyment, while we’re in lockdown. It’s also great to promote and nurture young creative talent from the local area.”
Appetite, led by the New Vic Theatre, is the Creative People and Places programme for Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme. Funded through National Lottery by Arts Council England it has been inspiring people in the area with accessible, high energy, spectacular work for the past 8 years. Every Other Seat is part of Appetite’s growing programme in Newcastle-under-Lyme that now includes the Familiar Faces outdoor exhibition by Adina Lawrence in partnership with GRAIN, a Town Centre Map by Chloe Breeze Illustration, and Newcastle Common. It also follows the tour of the Three Counties Cubes outdoor exhibition being located in the town centre.
Every Other Seat will be in Newcastle-under-Lyme Town Centre until mid-March 2021.