VOLUNTEERS from a thriving art and music project, which aims to fill empty shop space in Colchester, are in advanced negotiations to open a new venue.
Slack Space Colchester hopes to move into the old Shoe World store, in Queen Street, by next month.
If plans are agreed, the group, run by volunteers, will hold a year-long series of mini-festivals, talks, DJ nights and performances in the premises, which are part of the town's proposed Cultural Quarter.
Dorian Kelly, Slack Space collaborator, said: It is a huge space and on two floors, so we can do stuff in there we couldn't do in other places.
Slack Space is expanding and it is very exciting to think of what we can achieve in that new space.
The group already has a main venue in Long Wyre Street and three window spaces in the town to exhibit the work of artists, musicians and performers from the area.
The new venue will be used, in collaboration withColchester Council, to show the public, through a range of activities, the kind of things that will be happening in the Cultural Quarter when it is opened within the next few years.
The council has declined to comment on how much the scheme will cost.
The Slack Space team has also secured a grant of ВЈ1,940 fromВ Essex County Council's Arts in Essex Small Grants Scheme.
The money will be used to display original artwork in 18 empty and working shopfronts across Colchester.
The project will showcase works from established and developing artists, and any businesses interested in displaying work, or artists wanting to be involved in the project, can contact Slack Space at email@example.com
Meanwhile, Colchester's Cultural Quarter is likely to be created over a series of phases.
The first would see a hotel, creative hub and affordable homes, with some work starting this year.
Original plans for the old bus station site and nearby land included an open-air cinema and a glass-roofed market.
Once the first phase is complete,В Colchester Council, developer Garbe and architect Ash Sakula will look at how to develop adjoining land off Queen Street and Priory Street.
Regeneration in the south of the town centre will also include the Visual Arts Facility gallery complex, which is due to open later this year, and the Vineyard Gate shopping centre, work on which is currently suspended.