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Page last updated at 06:51 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 07:51 UK
Empty shops in Harlow to be converted into art studios
Broad Walk, Harlow
The new art studios will be officially launched in September

Plans to convert some of Harlow's empty shops into artist's studios have been given the go ahead.

Work will begin in April to convert 16 spaces in the town centre that will be available for artists to lease.

As well as the individual studios there will also be a gallery and 'community space' that can be used for workshops.

Local artists are being sought to take up residences in what will be known as the 'Gatehouse Studios and Gallery', which will be launched in September.

The joint project between Essex County Council, Harlow District Council and Harlow Renaissance is similar to the Slackspace concept in Colchester.

The idea to give empty shops a new lease of life was raised last year, with specialist company ACAVA being brought in to assess the viability of the plan.

With funding in place, part of which has come from Arts Council England, ACAVA will now oversee the renovation work.

"This is a very exciting initiative that will greatly enhance Harlow's thriving cultural scene," said Conservative County Councillor, Jeremy Lucas.

Artists who are interested in finding out more about the spaces can e-mail lindsey.strange@essex.gov.uk

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