The Guardian and the BBC have run pieces on how artists are reusing the shops that have been closed in the recession. It seems to work primarily for visual arts projects but I'm sure there's potential here for performing arts too.
What heartens me is not only the artistic appropriation of the failed commercial space but the positive reporting of it. It suggests that there's a space for artistic projects that make delightful the dreary, that rescue, in some way, the spaces that are at risk.
A small cheer and loud encouragement.