(see full text below)
Hm, he is getting the idea. Why don't we start this here and now in Penicuik? Craft shops and Makers' Time and places as antidote to boredom and loneliness? Lots of empty shops, lots of local crafters, lots of folks waiting to be woken up to the crafts?
We do have a lovely craft shop above the West Street cafe, but it is first floor (no access for disabled), not on main street (no passing trade). We even had an arts trail (talking about maps for to find crafters) during the Penicuik's Arts Festival, but Joan had no visitors :-( and other more centrally placed artists could really have had more...
Call for local craft shop.. on main street, ground level... something to attract the travellers and locals alike for pride and joy of place... Any newspaper (wo)man blowing into the horn for us?
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Published Date: 06 September 2010
Empty shops in Scotland's capital should be opened up to showcase the best of the nation's arts and crafts during the festival season as an antidote to tartan tat, according to one of the leading figures in the expat community.Scottish-American Foundation president Alan Bain argued that so-called "pop-up shops" would draw attention away from tacky tourist shops and highlight quality merchandise at a time when the city was teeming with visitors.
Mr Bain contacted The Sco
tsman after reading about the criticism of the large number of tartan tat shops on the Royal Mile and Princes Street by Hogmanay impresario Pete Irvine.
Mr Bain, a successful businessman who was in Edinburgh for several weeks over the festival season, said: "If there is space available, we should use it to give exposure to the best of Scotland's craftspeople and artisans - like Harris Tweed, Orkney jewellery and the best of Scottish foodstuffs. What better shop window for Scotland than the Royal Mile in Edinburgh at festival time? We need to remind people of those traditional crafts that are still around and use Edinburgh as a hub to showcase Scotland at its best."
Mr Bain suggested that some of the craftspeople could demonstrate their skills in the shops, but if space was too limited they could showcase their skills on big screens in the shops.
"The shops could also have maps and details of where to find these craftspeople - and links to hotels and other attractions in the area. They also need to be selling their product wherever possible."
The festival seasons would be an ideal time to pilot the pop-up shop programme, Mr Bain added - not only in August but also to coincide with other big events like Hogmanay. He said he did not like tartan tat shops and supported the council's suggestion that compulsory purchase orders might be used to buy them up, but said: "You have to ask what is worse - tartan tat shops or boarded-up shops?"
Mr Bain has spoken to officials at the City of Edinburgh Council who have agreed to meet him to discuss his proposals further when he is back in Edinburgh later this year.
Dave Anderson, director of City Development for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: "This is a very interesting idea and council staff will be discussing it further with Mr Bain when he returns to Edinburgh. We are always on the look-out for projects which animate the city centre and although this is very much an embryonic idea at this stage, it certainly merits further discussion."
The only pop-up shop so far in Edinburgh was Chocolate and Love in George Street, which was open for three weeks in late May and early June.
Last month, Pete Irvine said tartan tat shops were "really, really letting Edinburgh down".