I attended one of the open days at the old Regent Cinema over the weekend. Apart from the wonderful time scurrying around the decaying building, their was a lot of chat about the future of the place.

Stephen Brennan, the driving force behind the project, spoke about bringing it back to former glories and getting it up and running as a ‘Picture House’ again.

This was wonderful to hear, not just because it means saving an important part of our history, the Regent was one of the first purpose-built cinemas in the country, but also because this project is about more than one man’s vision. There is a passion here, a love, and he wants to share it.

The open days will continue and many more people will get the chance to see the damage an uncaring national company like Riley’s Snooker can do to an old building. More people will write about what is being said, the immediate plans for restoration and business. However, there is another side to this.

The Regent Project needs people, and not just to commit to the restoration, but after. When the building is back up and running, it needs people. Patrons to come and watch old movies, customers to use the bar that will be built next door.

The charitable trust that has been set up for this has its arms wide open waiting to welcome all of Blackpool, and in particular the creative community. They have seen the wondrous work of Sand, Sea and Spray that Robin Ross and others have put so much time and effort into. They witnessed what could be done, and it gave them more drive, more hope and more determination.

There is an opportunity here for the creative community to find a real friend, a place to love and be loved. But unless they know you’re willing to help they will not know you exist.  The time is coming to stand up and be seen, to shout about the great things happening like the Regent Project, The Lancashire Dead Good Poets, The Old Rock Factory, Caffe Dolce, Aunty Social, altblackpool etc.

Go to the Grand Theatre and watch some contemporary dance, buy a book of poetry, hang an original piece of artwork on your wall. Most of all, start telling the world what is happening, not what the Council isn’t doing, but what the people of this town are doing. Shout it out and shout it out loud. Be proud of being in a band or part of a play-writing group, make the powers that be hear us and the power of our art. If the council won’t shout about the creative community on the Fylde, then it’s up to us.

The next open day is 7 July at 1pm.  Go to the Facebook group for the Regent Cinema Blackpool and join; help make this happen. In turn they will show their support for you and together we will help bring Blackpool out of the past.


Featured image courtesy of Tony McMullen and features Ken Smith, a former projectionist at the Regent Cinema.

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