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Sneinton Market Square – A Cultural Placemaking Strategy

In 2009, Sneinton Market Square in Nottingham was run down, dilapidated and for the most part unused. Nottingham City Council appointed the Contemporary Art Society to develop a strategic public art approach alongside the regeneration of the Square.

The challenging context needed a cultural programme that could engage communities in the future of the market in a more holistic way. It also required resourceful and pragmatic thinking, with a limited budget representing less than .01 percent of the overall project funding.

A collaboration between design team Patel Taylor and lead artist Neville Gabie unearthed a narrative for the Square based on its historical importance as a site of food production and distribution, and the Orchard art programme was designed to activate community interest alongside the site’s construction through 2010.

An Apple Tree Adoption scheme distributed fruiting trees to local residents, schools and community organisations. Commissions offered to the burgeoning local artist community created a series of temporary events – activating empty shopfronts and market days, and demonstrating what the market could become in the future.

Orchard galvanised and inspired, and the programme continues to provide a platform for fellowship and exchange across communities old and new, based around the market’s history as a centre for food production and distribution. The project has been noted for its extensive and responsive consultation with local residents and stakeholders, through which a number of sustainable partnerships have been set up to ensure the continuing success and management of the market. Five years on, EU funding has recently been received to develop Sneinton Market Square as a cultural quarter.