YESSS!!! That’s the blog title I’ve been bursting to write for AGES! It felt good!
So, what’s going on? Why have I kept darkly hinting that something big was on the horizon, but refusing to give any details?
Well, it would’ve been jumping the gun to go public with this before the contract was signed and sealed, but I can now reveal: The Dock has just signed a Meanwhile Contract with Titanic Quarter Ltd – the first Meanwhile Contract in Belfast, in fact.
So what’s a Meanwhile Contract? Well you can either watch me explain it (with the usual moderate amount of enthusiasm) in this short vid, or read on…
Meanwhile is a brilliantly simple idea. It’s a way of bringing life back to the many town centres throughout the UK that are seeing a heartbreakingly increasing number of boarded-up shops. Check out meanwhile.org for loads of great examples of community groups, charities and churches finding creative, inventive uses for those empty and disused commercial spaces.
The Meanwhile contract is a win-win for all concerned – the community group/charity/church have a place to meet, while the owner or landlord of the commercial space benefits from increased footfall and activity, greater security, life returning to the building and the surrounding area – making it more likely that someday soon a commercial tenant will come along. And Meanwhile, the space is being used for the benefit of the community.
And so it is with profound joy and heartfelt thankfulness to everyone involved that I can now show you the pictures of The Dock and TQ Ltd entering into this contract. We are now the proud Meanwhile tenants of the beautiful shop unit right beside the SS Nomadic, underneath the Arc Apartments at the Abercorn Basin. Our front windows look out onto the basin, the Lough and the Kit sculpture; our side windows have a glorious view of the Nomadic, Titanic Belfast, the Metropolitan College and the Drawing Offices.
It’s currently an empty shop unit – another blank page for The Dock – no flooring, electricity, furnishings or fittings. But it won’t stay that way for long… our Meanwhile Proposal is for a community cafe, an art gallery, and a visitor information venue. A place for neighbours to meet, conversations to thrive, for Life in the Titanic Quarter to breathe and flourish.
In other words, this is the project we envisioned from the very start – but while we’re still researching and saving up for our boat, we can get started in this Meanwhile Space. When The Dock started two years ago, I never could’ve dared to dream that such a possibility would come along. I still need to pinch myself occasionally to realise that it is actually happening now.
So keep your eyes peeled on the Dock website as we fit-out and move into ‘Dock Cafe’ over the coming weeks. There are some incredibly exciting opportunities already starting to emerge as potential uses and ideas for the space. But all that is for the next blog – for now, people of The Dock, just take a moment at the end of reading this one to thank God for this wonderful blessing that has come our way.
Great, great days.