Art in the high street to help revitalise Altrincham town centre

Compressed Art with a HeartArt with a Heart (AWAH), Arts for the Community was recently nominated for the Towns Alive National Awards by Altrincham and Bowdon Civic Society. This was in recognition of our contributed to the regeneration of the Town Centre using the Arts.

It has long been recognised that the high street has to offer more than retail to survive. Their demise has been expedited by the competition from Retail Parks and Out of Town Shopping Malls,. Altrincham is no exception, with the Trafford Centre on the doorstep and businesses moving to the nearby retail park.

Society has changed, we need quality leisure and family time and the High Street has to offer this experience in order to survive. Relaxation and free time has become a luxury rather than a necessity. Pressures caused by job security and financial burdens can eventually take its toll. Couple this with unemployment, health and general well-being, society is becoming increasingly insular and stressful. Qualiity free time is now a premium, Art though not a panacea can definitely help towards delivering quality free time for all with low or no financial outlay.

AWAH, a not for profit organisation is an Arts Space for the Community in Altrincham. Our mission is to widen the audience and raise the awareness of the Arts while supporting emerging creatives and contributing to the regeneration of the heart of the town centre by encouraging the communities participating in a programme of events.

We worked with a number of volunteers to convert once empty unit for more than 2 years, owned
Art with a Heart - Chisnallsby the local council. AWAH opened the doors to the general public on 23rd September 2012 with our first exhibition in aid of the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust. Attracting 80 Artists from Around the World, we not only raised approximately £8,000 for CAFT, but also raised the awareness of the local children’s charity.

Since opening we have attracted more than 6,000 visitors, raised funds and awareness for various charities, supported emerging creatives and local groups as well as encouraging dwell time in Altrincham, a key factor in the regeneration of a high street.

The visitors to the exhibitions often comment on the relaxed and informal atmosphere in the Arts Space, where they can enjoy the art without feeling pressured to buy.

  • This facility is a very valuable one for Altrincham, Mr. & Mrs. L, Bowdon
  • Excellent addition to the desert of Altrincham, Mr. R, Altrincham 
  • This is what Altrincham needs – a central arts events place & an energetic & nice people to run it, Mrs. L, Altrincham
  • Fantastic work and a brilliant use of an empty shop, thanks, Mr. N, Alderley Edge
  • Always looked for something like this, Ms. G, Bowdon
  • Fantastic idea, will call again, Mr. & Mrs. F, Sale
  • A must for the community, Mr S, Newton- le-willows

Diversity and dynamism; the 2-3 week exhibition turnaround was the key. The Altrincham and Bowdon CS Display, Heritage of the Altrincham area attracted more than 1,500 visitors in only 10 days. This event has been so popular there is now a semi permanent Heritage Display in AWAH’s new location on Normans Place.

Schools and the Youth also benefited – not only are we getting the Art out of the Corridors and into a public exhibition space, with the Trafford Schools Open, we also present mentoring, skills development and experience to the volunteers.

After 4 months in the empty unit, the local council decided to adopt the idea and are now using a small section of the unit as a display while housing the Town Team and as a consequence we had to find a new location to take the project from the pilot phase.

What Next?

Karen Wroe, Project Director has recently secured another location for AWAH and is now working on the next 12 month exhibition schedule, including the inaugural Altrincham Open Art Exhibition. Art with a Heart also now has a monthly arts column in the local newspaper.

Art with a Heart is an Arts Space for the benefit of the Community.

For more information email Karen Wroe on and follow @AWAH_KarenWroe on Twitter

13:30, 29 Apr 2013 by Mark Barnes

Have supermarkets broken our shopping habits to such an extent that we no longer have the ability to make an informed choice about where we go shopping?  On the The Information Daily website, I discuss the fact that technology now allows the high streets to have the same tools for understanding and influencing consumer behaviour as the supermarkets.  See 

15:27, 18 Apr 2013 by Mark Barnes

Recent demises of high-profile high street chains have been blamed on their reluctance to move with the pace of technology. For today's larger retailers this is almost inexcusable, but what about the small to medium size shops on our highs streets? Do the right tools exist to support smaller enterprises? And if so, can Local Authorities offer these to protect and promote their high streets? Read my views on how technology can help redress the balance


15:25, 18 Apr 2013 by Mark Barnes


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