Council backs £200k art plan

Ocean Hotel on the Promenade
Ocean Hotel on the Promenade
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Town hall chiefs have agreed to buy a Promenade B&B which will be the resort’s first official ‘arts’ themed hotel.

Blackpool Council is spending £203,000 on the Ocean Hotel between Banks Street and Springfield Road.

It is hoped the project will help “change perceptions” of Blackpool.

The council will lease the property to a new community interest company set up by arts group LeftCoast at a rate of £10,000 a year, giving the council a 5.3 per cent annual yield on its investment.

LeftCoast has £200,000 of its own funding, including a £50,000 grant, which it will plough into the project but it also aims to launch a crow-funding initiative to raise further money. The ground floor of the 22-bed hotel, which has been vacant for some time, will be converted to an arts hub for use by the community, with the bedrooms also set 
to be individually arts-themed.

It is hoped the hotel would be ready by September this year.

Michael Trainor, artistic director at LeftCoast, said: “Art B&B is an incredibly exciting project for Blackpool and we’re very pleased to have the support of the council in the creation of this new business model that will support the arts and cultural scene long into the future.

“The project is multi-purpose, both providing a new visitor experience for cultural tourists coming to the town and providing local people with an arts centre-style facility.

“In the long term, Art B&B will also be reinvesting its profits back into the town, helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of the independent arts scene.

“Art B&B is currently attracting interest nationally and has already secured £50,000 of funding from the Clore Duffield Foundation and £150,000 from Arts Council England towards the total costs of the project.

“As part of the development phase we’re seeking to attract two thirds of the budget from private investors and other sources.

“As part of the project we’ll be renovating the building and commissioning world class artists to enhance this visual landscape of the Promenade with a unique attraction that you can stay in.

“In the short term the building will be leased from the council through a rental agreement but eventually the AB&B community interest company will seek to purchase it outright.”

The council is investing money for the purchase from its capital receipts, which is revenue it already raises in the town.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for municipal assets, said: “This investment will not only provide a return for the council but will also transform a property that has been empty for the last few years.

“By working with the LeftCoast project, the Art B&B will be transformed into a haven for both local and visiting artists.

“Our work with LeftCoast is starting to turn Blackpool into somewhere artists can set up in a studio and properly display their exhibitions.

“The Art B&B promises to be another string to that bow and will be a great learning opportunity for new artists, as well as providing a niche attraction for visitors to the town.”

A report to councillors says the project will “help change perceptions of Blackpool” with every aspect “considered as an artist commission, from room design to the breakfast menu.”