Boarded-up shops will receive a facelift with the help of Government cash, in a bid to keep high streets alive during the downturn.
The aim is to prevent high streets looking neglected, which can hit consumer and business confidence.
Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton will receive grants of £52,632 each, Local Government Secretary John Denham announced.
Across the country, £3 million has been made available for local councils to help transform empty shops into something useful such as a meeting place, a learning centre or arts venue.
Councils have already begun to intervene when shops close. Birmingham City Council turned a vacant supermarket in Erdington High Street into a community venue for locally-produced art.
Erdington Arts Forum organised an exhibition in the former Somerfield supermarket, featuring painting, photography, sculpture and textiles.
Similar projects included a scheme in Stafford, where the “Safer Stafford shop” was opened based in vacant premises in the Guildhall Shopping Centre.
It provides a high street base for the local Army careers service, Stafford Borough Council, police, the fire and rescue service, alcohol and drugs service, crimestoppers, trading standards and the county council road safety team.
But Sandwell MP Tom Watson (Lab West Bromwich East) said the biggest threat to high streets was out of town shopping parks.
He said: “These grants are not a huge amount when you look at what each individual council is getting.
“What the Government must do is ensure it stands up to the big retailers who are pushing for a change in the rules which would make it easier to build out of town shopping centres and drain the life out of our high streets.”
Mr Denham said: “We know that the downturn has really hurt high streets in areas of high deprivation across England. These grants will help to transform and re-open empty shops as part of our real help to keep town centres vibrant and combat the recession.
“Those councils will now be able to use our funding to come up to with their own creative ideas to transform their boarded up shops into some useful.
“These steps will help high streets continue to be vibrant places that remain the heart of the community.”