Why Preston city centre is getting a pop-up event tent made of shipping containers - and what's happening inside

A new pop-up event space made partly of shipping containers will open in Preston in May with a full schedule of events to help boost the Covid-hit city centre.

Monday, 11th April 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Monday, 11th April 2022, 4:04 pm

Opening on May 14, the interactive Mobile Event Tent (The MET) will be installed as part of Preston’s ‘Pop-Up’ projects.

It’s hoped the event space will help to reinvigorate the city centre and encourage people back into central Preston to support businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

The MET will be onsite and situated at the former Indoor Market site from the end of April 2022 and offer a full and free programme of creative events for the community, kicking off with a powerful storytelling event, reflecting on Preston residents’ experiences over the last 18 months of the pandemic.

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The new MET pop up tent

The project is being financed from £1 million of initial funding the city secured from the government’s Towns Fund for a series of ‘Pop-up’ regeneration projects in the Harris Quarter.

The city received a total of £20.9 million from the Towns Fund in March 2021, to support its wider Harris Quarter Investment Programme.

The contemporary structure of The MET has been designed and developed in Preston, in partnership with architect Charlie Mackeith of Research Design, and Professor Charles Quick of In Certain Places, UCLan.

The interior walls have been decorated by artist Jenny Steele, who was commissioned to work with Preston City’s different cultural groups.

A visual of how the MET will look

The design is made from specially adapted shipping containers, a state-of-the-art fabric cover, and other materials to create an inspiring 150 square metre space capable of accommodating up to 100 people.

The MET will play a key role in encouraging people back into the city centre, generating economic activity, and providing work for local artists.

After the summer, it is expected that The Met will move on to various other locations across Preston to host community, networking, arts and music events.

Chris Hayward, Director of Development at Preston City Council, said: “It’s a great opportunity to be able to host a diverse city centre events programme, especially while the Harris Museum is undergoing much-needed renovations.

Artwork inside the MET

“The interactive and unique space that The Met will provide for residents, will be an excellent boost for the city and as part of the Towns Fund and Preston City Investment Plan.”

John Chesworth, Executive Chairman of Harrison Drury Solicitors and Chair of the Preston Towns Fund Board added: “The Pop-Ups programme is just the start of what will be a sustained programme of investment in the city centre using the Towns Fund money we’ve secured.

“We’re incredibly excited to unveil these plans for The MET which will provide a truly unique event space for arts, culture, and other events including theatre, live music, business conferences, exhibitions and community events.

“The MET will be a valuable asset in attracting people to our City and helping boost the economy.”

Professor Charles Quick, Professor of Public Art Practice at UCLan, said: “This will be an important piece of community cultural infrastructure, which like projects in the past and present, will not only contribute to the lives of people in Preston and surrounding districts, but will attract attention from much further afield. It will continue the tradition of Preston as somewhere that is the first to test new physical, architectural, and social structures.” 

Other MET events listed for May 2022 are:

Saturday 14 May - Eventbrite - All Together But Different, 7pm - 10pm. An immersive performance tells the story of the people of Preston over the last 18 months.

Saturday 21 May - Andrew Newcombe: Vision 25-C, 7pm - 10pm. A drop-in to The MET for an interactive sound installation with Andrew Newcombe.

Saturday 28 May - Eventbrite - Under Wonderland, 2pm, 4.30pm, 7pm (40 minute performances). Through the Looking Glass has been cleverly re-imagined in an explosion of Funk for the family. The story is told through a thrilling fusion of Hip Hop music and Urban Dance.

Saturday 28 May - An Introduction to the Do's & Don’ts of Street Art, 12pm - 4pm, Up-cycle your very own spray can to take home with you. This workshop gives spray cans a new lease of life. All instructors are fully DBS Checked and operate as drop-in.

Saturday 28 May - Get Funky Learn New Dance Skills & How to Streetdance, 12pm - 4pm.

Feel the beat and get moving at these Street/Breakdance workshops delivered by experienced tutors and the cast of Under Wonderland. Workshops will be taking place throughout the day to members of the public wanting to try their hand at some basic dance movements. All instructors are fully DBS Checked and operate as drop-in.

Saturday 28 May - Skateboard Sessions drop-in, 12pm – 4pm. Wingz Skate team are offering sessions throughout the day for anyone who would like to give some basic skating a go. There will be five members of staff on the day delivering these sessions, complete with safety equipment, boards etc. All instructors are fully DBS Checked and operate as drop-in.