I was behind the What If Project (and others in Ilfracombe and Penge if you want, google them). I stopped it locally a few years ago. After trying to engage with various local shops, only Billings really embraced the scheme, and we did it for free and they needed the sign anyway as they were opening up a new shop.
I’ve worked on many shop schemes across London for over 14 different boroughs and been an advisor to the Mayor of London. These schemes are difficult, long and often expensive. Shop owners can be difficult to work with.
I’ve discussed this with Joanne on the other forum before. If you have a lovely shop front in a good state of repair, all nicely painted like many in Dulwich, and apply vinyls to the sign, then it can be cheap. But this is almost never the case.
It’s almost impossible to engage with brands and get them to change anything.
The mural project is a good one and I support it, although I have some reservations to how some will work with the indents in the wall as it’s not a flat surface. I’ve always liked ghost signs and murals and have designed quite a few. I know Joanne isn’t a fan of the Kirkdale ones I designed, but they were performing a function, seemed to be well liked and are based on the type on the Kirkdale Buildings. They are in the best positions we could get permission for, which as a task in itself.
Jon has done a brilliant job so far and anything that happens with the mural should be separate to a shop front scheme.
Grants wise, you are looking at council money such as the New Homes bonus or section 106 money and a willing council to bid for the funds. It’s been my experience that local councillors haven’t been willing to bid for the funds as the council wants the funds to go to Catford and other places.
The other place you could look for funding is Spacehive:
You can bid for up to 50k for projects, but that won’t go that far with shop fronts. And if the funding comes from grants, the costs go up as you have advertising consent, companies often have to be VAT registered or have the proper insurances etc and you have to get numerous quotes. I’ve worked on schemes that were 50k for one shop down to simple signwriting for a few hundred.
As for empty shops and advertising, I totally agree with Joanne that it’s far better to do up a shop front and put something nice in the window to advertise the space rather than the huge triangle of plastic that is normally used. However, this relies on an enlightened company. We have done this in a few spaces around London and once again it’s a lot of work getting people to agree. The horrible boards that are put up on bits of wood cost around £15-20 to install and it’s easy for estate agents to do it. Anything outside of the norm means gettting permission and is hassle and more expense. The likes of the Dulwich estate think differently, but commercial agents, sadly, don’t.
So if anyone does go into this, go in with your eyes open. Set your targets low and don’t expect to change the world. I was really surprised when I started doing this over 7 years ago now at how difficult it can be. It is a huge amount of, often thankless work which is often criticised by people who don’t understand what goes on behind the scenes.
That’s why I’m amazed at the work Jon has done so far.
If anyone wants an idea of how much shops fronts, awnings, awning recovers, shop front spraying, signage costs etc I can give some ballpark figures.