Skool of Street is an urban arts project that has been running throughout the summer holidays and which culminates in a showcase at the Grand Theatre on Friday 10 October.

Young people aged between 7-19 years from Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have been taking part in workshops on Thursdays and Saturdays since mid July in street dance, drama, graffiti art, beat-boxing, rap, MC-ing and film-making. This has all happened behind closed doors at the Oracle in South Shore, however, we are now able to see the results of their hard work onstage in the main house of the Grand Theatre.

Samantha Bell, who has curated this project, is a world and British street dance champion and was involved in choreographing a piece for seven young people as part of the high profile Breakin’ Convention at the Grand earlier this year. When she first presented the idea to LeftCoast, who are supporting this initiative, she knew that she wanted to offer something that encompassed a range of different art-forms, she wanted all the young people to be able to take part for free and she wanted everybody who took part to have a chance to perform on a large, professional stage; and this is exactly what has happened.

Skool of Street
Skool of Street

To ensure that Skool of Street was not just another dance showcase but truly a multi-faceted urban arts experience, Sam enlisted the help of a variety of local artists: Aishley Docherty (Urban Artz Network) provided drama classes, Will Panter ran beat-boxing sessions, Jay Madden taught MC and rapping skills, Karl Hanrahan ran the graffiti art workshops, Riccardo Provenzano and Chris Hembury (Job Done Media) supplied the video/film-making element and Sam created the dance programme. As the showcase also includes some short performances by local artists, this is truly a collaborative event.

Sam is naturally excited about the culmination point of this project, saying: “The majority of the young people who have attended Skool of Street this summer have never been involved in any kind of performance before so it has been refreshing and rewarding working with them. We are putting together a high quality showcase that has been created through collaboration. It will be a great experience for them all to perform on a stage as prestigious as the Grand Theatre.”

Skool of Street
Skool of Street Beatboxing

Blackpool is seeing a surge in the range of creative opportunities that young people can get involved in since the instigation of organisations like LeftCoast and Curious Minds in the region whose role it is to help develop the conditions in which creativity can thrive. Sam hopes that projects such as Skool of Street will find a way of becoming a sustained part of the offer in the area: “I hope that the performance will allow friends and family, as well as the rest of the community, to see the capabilities of the next generation. The show is about how young people can use their creativity and collaboration to help with other social skills. I hope people will see this and support this initiative.”

Skool of Street showcase is on at The Grand Theatre at 7pm on Friday 10 October; tickets cost just £5 and can be purchased online or from the Grand Box Office.

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    Melanie Whitehead is the Creative Director of The Old Electric, Blackpool's newest theatre. She previously worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

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