Empty Shop

100,000 Visitors,

2000 Artists, 500 Events,



What’s on at HQ

Dec 3 @ 3:45 pm – 5:30 pm
Cafe Sci Durham City: The Evolution of Human Speech @ Empty Shop HQ | Durham | England | United Kingdom
Cafe Sci Durham City is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to science outreach in Durham. We run weekly cafes with speakers from Durham University (and others!), who are always happy to chat about their research or[...]
DUJS: Jazz Jam @ HQ @ Empty Shop HQ
Dec 4 @ 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm
DUJS: Jazz Jam @ HQ @ Empty Shop HQ
Following a test last year, we’re welcoming back the Durham University Jazz Society to host semi-regular Jazz Jams at HQ. They’re free to attend and open to all. Format There will be a house band[...]
Dec 6 @ 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
A Home from Home: A Glimpse of Syria @ Empty Shop HQ
Live to Remain’s first event will take place on Tuesday 6th December. Please join us for a night of music, dialogue and creative exchanges over Arabic sweets and hot drinks. Sam Slatcher is a singer[...]
The Spread @EmptyShop @ Empty Shop HQ
Dec 7 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
The Spread @EmptyShop @ Empty Shop HQ
IT IS FINALLY HERE AND BOY IS IT WARM AND CRISPY Fresh out of the toaster of rehearsals, Buttered Toast presents its first new writing showcase: The Spread @Empty Shop HQ. There’s music, spoken word,[...]
The Folk Sessions @ Empty Shop HQ
Dec 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[...]
Dec 10 @ 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm
RockSoc Gig Night: JUDAS // Lincoln Motorcade // Ellipses @ Empty Shop HQ
Durham University Rock Society and Butler Rock (& Alternative Music) Soc!are delighted to announce our first Gig Night!! Open to everyone, non-members and non-students too, so feel free to share and invite as many as[...]
Dec 12 @ 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm
DUES: Open Mic Night with Jay Hulme @ Empty Shop HQ
DUES are proud to announce a very exciting event, An Open Mic Night, with a performance from Jay Hulme. Jay is a transgender performance poet from Leicester who has published two collections of poems: “The[...]
Dec 14 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Hearing Voices: Jonathan Balazs’ ‘They Heard Voices’ @ Empty Shop HQ
We will be hosting a mini film festival as part of the linked programme of events around Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everyday, a major exhibition on voice-hearing produced by Hearing the Voice and Palace Green Library.[...]
Dec 17 @ 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Happy Accidents // Fresh // Camboys @ Empty Shop HQ
Equestrian Collective presents: OPS Their album is coming out on Everything Sucks Records, they rock hard. Like twinkly solos, then really catchy pop hooks, and heartbreaking lyrics. Coming all the way from Birmingham to play[...]
Jan 18 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Hearing Voices: Healing Voices Movie @ Empty Shop HQ
We will be hosting a mini film festival as part of the linked programme of events around Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everyday, a major exhibition on voice-hearing produced by Hearing the Voice and Palace Green Library.[...]


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 was founded by Carlo Viglianisi and Nick Malyan 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

The folks behind Empty Shop

Nick & CarloCarlo Viglianisi is an artist and photographer who worked freelance for 7 years prior to Empty Shop. He has managed Empty Shop HQ in Durham city since 2010. Initially an artist studios and gallery space the venue is now a cross-platform arts centre. Carlo has also project managed Empty Shop’s recent site specific work including The Alligator Club (BRASS 2015), Contained (Shambala Festival) and Hot Potato Records. He was also awarded the title of Young British Cartoonist of the Year in 2006.

Nick Malyan is a North East based project manager with a decades experience working with organisations including Artichoke, New Writing North, Sage Gateshead and the Lindisfarne Gospels Durham partnership. Nick also works independently as a writer, curator and facilitator contributing to projects as part of Cardiff Contemporary, The Newbridge Project, Northern Stage, &-Model Gallery and Futuresonic festival (among others).

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 £50 a 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