Culture Blackpool Launch – The B Side

My hometown, Blackpool. I am here by accident really, my family moved here in the 70’s to open a guest house, Blackpool was thriving then with carnivals and hoards of visitors promenading the seafront. It is still a busy hub of activity in high season but out of season, the town belongs to the locals. If you walk around the town on a blustery winters day, the atmosphere you catch is tangible, remnants of people, place and time. The town belongs again to its residents.

I studied elsewhere for a Fine Arts Degree and could not wait to leave at the time. What a shock living elsewhere? No beach, rubbish taxi services, no theatres to speak of? My eyes were opened to how amazing Blackpool is. Like a sibling that someone slags off, I jump to Blackpool’s defence should someone highlight its shortcomings.

Tuesday, early doors, I arrive at the Tower Circus to listen to a panel of individuals launch the new #CultureBlackpool website, attached to Visit Blackpool and partnered with Leftcoast, The Grand Theatre and The Winter Gardens. John Robb award-winning journalist and Membranes musician chaired the panel with Ruth Eastwood from The Grand Theatre, Michael Trainor from LeftCoast, Professor Vanessa Toulmin Curator of Showzam until 2013 and Poet, Tony Walsh. An impressive film followed: Showzam, Lightpool, Wordpool there are a lot of pools in there, Dart – Pool? Well, we do have a big Darts event in Blackpool – is it culture though? Maybe.

What a thrill to be seated in the circus ring to marvel at the delicious decor, one of my favourite memories of the space: circa 2002 at The Christmas Tree Ball, dancing to a DJ in the ring, “Teenage Kicks” blasts out, that moment forever ingrained, flashed through my mind.  I was not surprised to see so many people in attendance and John was a great host, opening by drawing inspiration from the 1989 Stone Roses Blackpool gig. Now I do love the Stone Roses, I am a lifelong fan, I was 15 when they played in 89 and most people would agree that it was not their finest hour, but absolutely memorable.  However Blackpool along with many other seaside towns are THE destinations for bands, bands have always made their way to coastal towns to perform and Blackpool’s list is endless. in October: Bon Iver played The Opera House to a sell-out audience, now that was iconic.

As a long-standing contributor and photographer at altBlackpool, we have always stood for creativity, art, community and local interesting happenings in Blackpool. So of course we understand and get the angle, perhaps CultureBlackpool even draws inspiration from altBlackpool, a little? As a creative who is genuinely interested in the alternative, music, art, literature – it can be difficult to uncover what that is unless you are already in it. Rebellion Punk Festival can be a closed door unless you were listening to The Damned in 1972. Or finding a gig at Bootleg where Jurassic 5 might be playing could require some detective work unless you are a fan with your ear to the ground, most people are probably not even aware that Oscar Wilde visited The Winter Gardens, blame Wikipedia for not making the most of that. Artists and non-commercial culture hides away behind locked doors, down alleyways and in communities of people who are striving to look at things in a unique way, that’s what makes it so fragile, sensitive and interesting.

Today’s throwaway culture of social media has stopped us taking our own time to appreciate our surroundings and that is what I think Blackpool provides, its entertainment heritage has unmeasurable uniqueness: Architecture, Interior, Landscape, Community, Theatre, Blackpool holds magic, it has mystique, the Ballrooms are world famous and behind that the people. That is what really makes a place. Blackpool as Culture all the way, I can’t wait until we get an art biennial.

Featured image courtesy of CJGriffiths.

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