Empty Shop

55,000 Visitors,

2000 Artists, 300 Events,



What’s on at HQ

Sep 3 @ 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm
The Jazz Sessions: Bradley Johnston Quartet @ Empty Shop HQ
Working in association with the Jazz Co-Op in Newcastle The Jazz Sessions continue for 2015 on the first Thursday of every month. We encourage anyone with an interested in live jazz, or an ear for[...]
Sep 9 @ 8:00 pm – 11:45 pm
The Folk Sessions **NOTE SEPT DAY CHANGE** @ Empty Shop HQ
Normally on the second Thursday, septembers Folk Session will be on Weds 9th due to a prior engagement. Traditional music sessions – tunes and maybe a few songs from the British Isles and beyond. An[...]
The Folk Sessions @ Empty Shop HQ
Oct 8 @ 8:00 pm – 11:45 pm
The Folk Sessions @ Empty Shop HQ
Come along on the second Thursday of each month for an evening to an informal folk at HQ Traditional music sessions – tunes and maybe a few songs from the British Isles and beyond. An[...]

The Alligator Club

AC facebook header

Thanks to everyone who came was involved with, and came along to The Alligator Club. It was a huge success and it will definitely pop-up again in future. Check back soon for images and videos from the weekend.

What is The Alligator Club?
The Alligator Club is our pop-up bar concept, originally conceived by Empty Shop to form the official fringe programme for the 2015 Durham Brass Festival.

From 16th – 19th July an empty space was transformed into The Alligator Club, a 120 capacity venue hosting 4 nights of Jazz, Funk Hip-Hop and Blues. By day the venue also played host to a selection of the best international street bands from BRASS 2015.

Part blues bar, part jazz club The Alligator club had a fully licenced bar and an amazing sound system creating an electric atmosphere and some incredible music.

AC logosFollowing the events at The Alligator Club, everyone was invited back to our hidden bar at Empty Shop HQ for the official after show parties where the party continued until the early hours.

Thanks to Brass 2015, The Durham Bid and The Gates Shopping Centre.

Find The Alligator Club
AC mapThe Alligator Club is a pop up venue, meaning it is temporary and will only exist for a short time. We are taking over an empty shop unit for the duration of this project, and transforming it into the club – please do not confuse this with Empty Shop HQ, our permanent City Centre venue.

The address is Unit 1, The Gates Shopping Centre, North Road, Dh1 4SJ… but please note it is an outside unit, not inside the shopping centre itself. You can find The Alligator Club at the North Road entrance to the shopping centre, opposite the William Headley pub and next to CEX. Look out for our signange or listen for the music.

Thursday 16th: Swing & Sway with Lindy Jazz & Strictly Speakeasy: 7pm doors – £5
Friday 17th: Mr Woodnote, lil rhys & Snareophobe + Zero DB + Outside Your House: 7pm doors – £10
Saturday 18th: The Jazz Sessions Extra: Havana Club 5 & Jazz Latin Groove: 7pm doors – £6
Sunday 19th: The official BRASS closing party: 7pm doors – £5

Eventbrite - The Alligator Club



Empty Shop CIC is a non profit arts organisation in the North East of England and based in Durham City. We formed in 2008 with the idea to provide a much needed and accessible platform for artists of all levels and backgrounds to produce exhibit and engage with art. As the organisation has grown we have developed into well rounded permanent fixture in the North East art scene.

Today Empty Shop still provides those opportunities and resources that were so few and important back then but our reach now also expands into a whole cross section of areas and expertise.

Empty Shop started in 2008 and chooses to be completely unfunded and fully independent.

Where is Empty Shop?
Our Head Quarters, Empty Shop HQ, is in Durham city centre, however we also utilise other venues and public spaces temporarily to provide accessible, temporary galleries and site specific events.

  • – If you would like to find out about using an Empty Shop email us on thefolks@emptyshop.org
  • – If you would like to collaborate with us get in touch – click here
  • – If you are the owner of an unused building and would like to hear about the benefits of the Empty Shop Model contact thefolks@emptyshop.org

Empty Shop HQ

Situated in the heart of Durham City, Empty Shop HQ is the home of our organisation and a hub for independent arts in Durham.

HQ sketch

Unused for around a decade, this beautiful old building forms the centrepiece of our regeneration agenda. Set over two floors it is a multi use building with studio space, exhibition space, a usable workspace and a fully licensed bar & venue.

As a hub for the City it truly reflects the ethos of Empty Shop; Inclusive and friendly, it’s the kind of place where we would want to hang out ourselves…
You’ll find no judgement, agendas or hierarchies here.

As ever there is plenty of opportunity with this space and it is available to hire for a range of cultural uses such as gigs, exhibitions, creative projects, talks and workshops.

Empty Shop HQ illustration by Matt O’Brien


Use the Venue





Get Involved

We think of ourselves as an inclusive organisation, we love to work with people and provide opportunities. There are loads of ways you can get involved, from invigilating right through to realising project ideas. Some examples of the sort of opportunities we offer are detailed below but if you don’t see what you’re thinking of there, drop us an email at thefolks@emptyshop.org




What is Empty Shop?
Empty Shop is a progressive, grass roots, independent arts organisation based in Durham. Our main objectives are art, regeneration and collaboration. Founded in 2008, we are a registered Community Interest Company and officially a non profit organisation.

Why are you called ‘Empty Shop’?
Initially the main focus of the organisation was using empty shops, buildings and unused spaces as art space. What started out as a “does what it says on the tin” name has now become a brand rather than the purely descriptive term of it’s origins.

Are you part of the ‘art in empty shops schemes’ that are popping up all over the country?
No, we actually predate that Government Initiative and have always operated completely independently.

Are you part of a ‘pop up shop scheme’?
No. Although part of what we do is temporary in nature, we are completely independent from any pop up shop schemes – this is all us.

Are you funded?
No, and this is intentional – we have not applied for any funding and don’t plan to. We are completely self sufficient and sustainable at every level, Empty Shop exists in it’s own right. We value this above all else.

So, what exactly do you do?
As mentioned above we are increasingly an inter-disciplinary organisation. We “do” exhibitions, events, residencies, film screenings, music events, programming and curating, performance and collaborations of all kinds.

Does it cost anything?
Empty Shop will only ever charge a fee appropriate to the costs we incur in operating a venue.

Each Empty Shop we take on has different overheads associated with it; a small space that we’re using for one week will be different to an entire building for which we occupy for a period of months. With this in mind the charge for hiring one of our spaces can vary, in the past fees have varied from as little as £7 a day and the large workspace at Empty Shop HQ is currently available at £25 for half a day £50 for a full day. Use of these spaces is allocated strictly on a first come, first served policy.

Drop us an email if you have a particular project, or particular space, in mind.

How does Empty Shop work?
Empty shop works through hard work, dedication and a genuine interest in what we are doing. We aim to provide the community we serve with creative resources and opportunities, whilst creating an alternative cultural offer in the region.

I have an empty shop/building/space,  would it benefit me to let you use it?
Yes, there are some great reasons, including commercial and financial incentives, to allow our organisation to use your unused space. If you want to talk to us about this please email thefolks@emptyshop.org and we will be in touch.

Can Empty Shop help me with an idea?
Very possibly! We are a really open organisation that loves to work with other people. Drop us an email with your idea and we’ll see if it’s something we can help with.


Get in touch

If you would like to get in touch, drop us an email or a message via Facebook / Twitter.
Contact Info


35c Framwellgate Bridge, Durham, DH1 4SJ