Pop-up market to revive New Brighton

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 01/11/2012
pop-up market
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

BLANK CANVAS: A pop-up market is being built to bring life back to central New Brighton.

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The New Brighton community is rallying to revive the faded seaside suburb, with a pop-up market, cinema and art studio opening on an empty site this weekend.

More than a dozen shops have been demolished or shuttered on New Brighton mall since the Canterbury earthquakes but local people are leading the fightback.

Volunteers are transforming the site into an open-air cinema, twilight market, gallery and art studio opening on Saturday, while a resident has arranged wall space for 25 artists to create murals in the suburb this weekend.

Rebecca May of Renew Brighton enlisted architecture students from Otago University and Unitec in Auckland to design structures for the new "creative quarter" that would not require consent. The site was left empty after the Charity Barns building was gutted by fire in May.

May said about 70 volunteers helped transform the site over four days last week.

The "creative quarter" will be officially opened on Saturday afternoon and a film will be screened in the evening.

"The site was looking neglected and unloved but this proves we can change things," she said. "It was an incredible experience to have all that vibrant energy of people giving to the project and the cause. People who were passing by stopped and asked if we needed a hand.

"We have gone through a disaster and buildings are broken or being knocked down. We are in a transitional space and it doesn't feel great.

"It can feel like it is taking a very long time and there is not a lot of progress.

"This is a very powerful community building exercise.

"We were all able to participate and see progress."

Sue Davidson, who describes herself as a "very passionate New Brighton resident", has organised permission for 25 artists to create murals across the suburb, starting at 10am on Saturday.

"They will start brightening up Brighton," she said. "It will look stunning because it is a bit dull at the moment."

"The earthquakes have been a good thing for Brighton in some respects because a lot of old buildings are coming down and it's changing the face of the mall. There were too many shops for the amount of people around," Davidson said.

"Now we can use the new open spaces for pop-up outlets and market spaces.

We are nutting it out together and making it happen."

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