Bute volunteer enters £10k town centre contest

A volunteer with a Bute arts project is in the running for a £10,000 prize in a competition seeking original and positive ideas for Britain’s town centres.

John McGranaghan, who works with the Rustle Way Arts and Media Studio in Rothesay, has made a pitch to the Test Town initiative for help in setting up a shop which would offer display and retail space to local artists, would be staffed by young volunteers who would gain retail experience and could be expanded to include a community café and youth club.

The Test Town judging panel will consider all the entries from across the country after the May 3 submission deadline.

John said in his submission: “We would open a shop to showcase the local talent we have here on Bute. Here we would offer space to local artists to sell their products, craft and gifts and have a gallery area to hold exhibitions.

“We would also work with young artists who are starting out in the creative industries to give them exposure and support and retail experience.

“This in turn would help not only the creatives gain some revenue through sales but also help the creative industry here on Bute thrive and we would have something to promote far and wide through Visit Bute and on all our local social networking sites.

“We know there is a need here on Bute for a cheap shop with little overheads. We would staff it with young volunteers who would gain retail experience. There would be a percentage of the sales put back into the shop to help with the overheads.

“We would also have a ‘create corner’, where the little people could come in and make their own gift for a small price so they have a bit of Bute to take home or give as a gift.

“If we could get a big enough space, we would run a community café, offering great affordable food and offering training to the youth in all aspects of catering.

“This space could also be used in an evening to run youth events and a youth club. Here the youth can actively get involved with the project and have the space to work on new projects and create a forum for discussion about what is needed here on Bute and in turn give the youth a voice.

“The shop would be Wi Fi so everyone can use it with their phones and laptops.”

The TestTown home page states: “We are looking for truly original uses for Britain’s town centres - things that will excite people to think differently and positively about their local high streets.

“This is where you submit your innovative idea for a business that will breathe life back into your town centre. These ideas will go before our expert panel of judges after the 3rd May 2013.

“The 10 best ideas will be given a £1,000 grant and four weeks of support to help develop their ideas to bring them to TestTown.

“The winner of this national competition will be decided during TestTown week, with the winner picking up the £10,000 prize.”