Cornerstone Arts - An Example Of How We Reinvigorate The High Street
How do we reinvigorate the High Street? As we emerge from yet another financial crisis; attention once again focuses on the High Street, and yet more casualties. A number of ‘Think Tanks’ have produced reports and papers on how to regenerate these areas using arts and cultural organisations to kick start the process.
Hammond Associates (H&A) devised a business model in 2009, which has remained fundamentally unchanged to this day. The main reason being, the simple business principle that for a scheme, or transaction to work, there have to be benefits to all parties, and the more even those benefits, the more chance of success.
Since inception, we have used more than 10,000 empty commercial premises, and we cover the whole of the UK with several hundred in use at any one time, so it is reasonably successful. H&A developed a strong network of Property Owners and Consultants who see the benefits, we also have a network of Arts and Community Charities with nationwide membership, these are the ‘enablers’; the individuals who make it happen.
One shining example of how Hammond Associates have helped is in our partnership with occupying charity Cornerstone Arts, and retail giant Marks & Spencer, who provided one of their void sites for rejuvenation.
When the old M&S store in Darlington was handed over to Cornerstone Arts (a group dedicated to creating a new independent arts centre for the local area) it was clear that they had a mighty transformation task on their hands, but they rolled up their sleeves and got to work shaping the dark and gloomy building into their very own hand-crafted world of art!
Bit by bit, Cornerstone Arts’ vision started to take shape…
Once the floor, walls, and pillars had all been seen to, the real fun could begin!
Talented artists in the local and surrounding area combined their skills to create paintings, sculptures, murals, and many more fine exhibits of the wonders of the human mind. One such artist is Andy
Boylett, whose iconic creations have gained him well deserved respect and popularity among the public and other creatives alike.
Here he is creating what later became the mesmerising centrepiece of the gallery. Aptly named the “Tree Of Life”, this beautiful sculpture took Andy over 7 months to complete.
It took many hands and many hours of work to finish the project, but it was all worth it in the end…
On Saturday 29th August 2020, Cornerstone Arts proudly opened its doors to guests and celebrated the grand opening with a variety of family friendly attractions including art exhibitions, craft stalls, and beverage stands.
Guests who took part in the tombola also helped to raise money for Cornerstone Arts’ so that they can in turn continue to give back to the community they love.
As a final message and a true testament to their passion, we’ll leave you with what is, in their own words, the reason why Cornerstone Arts are here today:
“Love of Darlington. Love of Community. Love of friends and strangers alike. Love of collaboration. Love of creativity. Love. Love over fear. Love over ignorance. Love over hate. Love over anger.
Cornerstone Arts is built out of love. Love is why we do it.”