Making high streets unique
The decline of high streets has been a concern for many in Gwynedd as it has been across Wales. To try and to tackle the matter Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig (AGW) has looked at some creative solutions.
Traditionally the high street has been a focal point for communities across Wales in terms of jobs, a hub for small businesses as well as being a driver for local and regional economies. Times have changed and today the high street faces huge challenges with the increase in online shopping, large scale shopping centres and out of town hypermarkets. All these factors have contributed to the demise of our town centres.
Zoe Pritchard, AGW manager explains “Today consumers are looking for a range of different experiences on the high streets, from shopping to leisure, from entertainment to health services. This is a challenge but our high streets and town centres must offer a unique experience that people won’t be able to find anywhere else if they are to survive.”
AGW has been working with communities in Nefyn, Criccieth and Caernarfon to make this project a reality.
In Caernarfon an art installation above the street was developed to create an attractive and colourful environment in order to attract people to the town centre. The installation has been very popular with hundreds of photos of it being shared on social media, and people traveling especially to see the colourful umbrellas. In a survey 99% agreed that the artwork gave a good impression of the street, whilst 61% agreed that the installation made them spend more time and money on the street.
Amongst the ideas for Criccieth was The Creative Incident event – a day of art activities, performances and workshops. Local businesses were encouraged to take part by displaying old photographs of the town and its shops to show the high street had changed over the years. Visitors were asked their opinion with over 80% agreeing that the artwork and the event made them spend more money in the town, with 100% strongly agreed the artwork and event gave a positive impression.
Nefyn’s project was to hold a party on the high street, with live music, food, craft stalls and activities. The ‘Party on the Pavement’ was held during the summer with those who attended reporting that the atmosphere was fantastic. There were plenty of children’s activities giving families the chance to socialise, and artists such as Anweledig, Gwilym Bowen Rhys and Bwncath entertained the crowds in the evening.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. It’s also part funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Gwynedd Council.