Artists can help revitalize urban spaces but first city planners and developers must unlearn some of their ideas about what retail spaces can be used for. To the right is a picture of an abandoned Blockbuster video store. Pictures like this are only going to become more common as people unlearn their reliance on DVDs and begin downloading and streaming movies directly from the Internet and into their homes.
The big question is: What happens with all of this empty retail space? Sure, a few stores will be replaced by neighborhood restaurants and new retailers but, for the foreseeable future, many will remain vacant. The result: urban blight
One strategy is to allow artists access to these spaces at a discounted rate. For example, a local community theatre group could use an old Blockbuster to perform new and innovative shows. Another option could be for local artists to use the spaces to show their latest paintings, sculptures, other pieces of art or even to teach classes.
The space is going to be physically empty. The best way to fill it is with the human creativity that resides within the human mind.