Blackpool and Wyre set to become the best place for artists to live and work

An innovative new programme of talent development, commissions and learning opportunities are going live for Blackpool and Wyre based artists in an effort to help further develop the thriving arts and creative community in the area.

Two commission schemes are now open for applications with the opportunity for artists and arts organisations to either develop new projects through the Future Popular programme or refine their own skills with a LeftCoast Express bursary.

LeftCoast Express is a fast track learning programme with the aim of enabling artists or arts organisations to develop the gaps in their knowledge by going to see and shadow arts professionals in other areas of the country and bring that knowledge back to progress their own work. The programme offers up to 1,500 over a six month period which can be spent on travel, accommodation or other costs incurred while taking part. 

Rick Thompson, LeftCoast Express recipient, said:

“LeftCoast Express has opened up doors that would never have been opened for me. I’m now part of a newly established organisation with opportunities presenting themselves on a regular basis and exciting projects under way – projects that would not have been realised otherwise.

“I genuinely feel that the impact that LeftCoast has had across Blackpool and Wyre has already been outstanding and I’m feeling more excited about the future of the arts in the town than I have for a long time.”

Future Popular commissions offer artists the chance to develop projects with the aim of engaging audiences in new, exciting and experimental ways. The projects can be in any art form from dance to photography but must be brilliant new ideas with the people of Blackpool and Wyre as the key beneficiaries. Six commissions of between £3,000 and £5,000 are available for this round and applicants are encouraged to come up with their freshest ideas yet in order to impress the judging panel of local citizens and business people. 

As well as commissions there is also a menu of free support and learning opportunities on offer for the arts and creative sector.

Once a month the LeftCoast team throws open their doors for an afternoon of surgery style appointments giving artists the chance to chat one on one and get friendly professional advice about anything from applying for Arts Council funding, brainstorming new ideas, writing a PR and marketing plan, to finding collaborators for that next big project.

A new programme of free training has also been developed to support the professional development of the arts sector with everything from marketing, business planning, project management, working as a freelancer and developing audiences through crowdfunding which will be announced later this month.

Julia Turpin, Executive Director of LeftCoast, said:

“It is hugely important that we support the growth and development of locally based artists and arts organisations to ensure a sustainable and diverse sector in the area producing high quality and ground breaking new work that can only be seen here. Not only is this an opportunity to boost the visitor economy by attracting cultural tourists into the town but it also enriches the lives of people right here by giving them a rich and varied selection of things to see and do.

“The value of the arts in both economic and social terms simply cannot be underestimated and findings by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport support this. It is estimated that ?77bn value is added by the creative and cultural industries, equivalent of 5.0% of the economy, and that they collectively employ 1.7m people. Not only this but those who have attended an arts or cultural event in the past 12 months are 60% more likely to report good health, something which is a priority for the town.

“This programme of support is an investment in the people that live, work and study here, making Blackpool and Wyre one of the best places to be an artist in the North West, or indeed nationally. We want to engage with as many artists and creative organisations as possible to enable them to continue to produce high quality work and develop new ways of generating income to sustain their work, and we hope this programme will do just that.”

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