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Blackpool Clores its way to a Top Prize

LeftCoast's Michael Trainor

Blackpool has been awarded £50,000 from a special £500,000 prize fund to help the town take its next steps in plans for an Art Bed & Breakfast.

The fund was specially set up to help celebrate fifty years of the Clore Duffield Foundation; a grant-making charity which supports, amongst other things, cultural leadership training through their Clore Leadership Programme and Clore Social Leadership Programme which are also celebrating their tenth and fifth anniversaries respectively.  The prize fund was open only to those who have taken part in the intensive training. To date, there are only 346 Fellows of these programmes and we are lucky to have two working in the cultural sector in Blackpool in the shape of Blackpool Council’s Head of Culture Polly Hamilton and LeftCoast’s Artistic Director Michael Trainor.

Together they pitched for a piece of the Clore pie through their Art Bed & Breakfast proposal: AB&B aims to redefine the traditional bed & breakfast experience by putting arts and culture at the heart of the business model. A fully-functioning social enterprise, artists will be commissioned to create every element of the traditional B&B experience from a virtual landlady to the bedroom décor.

Trainor said: “Bed & Breakfasts are an incredibly important part of the visual landscape and popular culture of Blackpool. AB&B is an opportunity to celebrate all that is good in the B&B tradition and re-imagine them in a more creative future.”

The project will also involve the innovative new Community Interest Company, Jobs, Friends and Houses, in the building renovations. This social enterprise has been set up by Blackpool Police with support from Lancashire Constabulary, Blackpool Council and Public Health Blackpool, Blackpool and Fylde College, HMP Kirkham as well as private businesses and arts organisations specifically to help sustain drug and alcohol addicts through abstinence-based recovery, providing them with sustainable employment and support to find housing and friends.

Eight prizes were awarded to innovative arts projects although Blackpool’s bid was the only successful award in the north of England.  The judging panel included Foundation Chairman Dame Vivien Duffield, Head of BBC News James Harding, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre Jude Kelly OBE and Director of the Tate Sir Nicholas Serota.

This is a huge achievement for Blackpool and testament to the confidence that others have in the potential for the town to take steps to achieve a necessary cultural shift, from a town set up to serve the entertainment needs of holiday-makers to ensuring that the creative folk who live here have an active involvement in the creation and selection of the arts and cultural offer in their own area.

To keep in touch with developments around this programme as well as other arts activities in  Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, you can sign up to receive emails from LeftCoast here.

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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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