Art trail plan to boost visitors

The annual Art in the Park exhibition by members of Lytham St Annes Art Society at the gates of Ashton Gardens, St Annes. There are now plans to create an art trail in the town.
The annual Art in the Park exhibition by members of Lytham St Annes Art Society at the gates of Ashton Gardens, St Annes. There are now plans to create an art trail in the town.
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A Continental-style art trail is set to be developed in St Annes in a bid to attract more visitors to the town.

Traders and hoteliers have welcomed the proposal – based on a successful French event – to mount eye-catching original works on walls and free-standing boards around the town centre.

The initial theme of the trail is likely to be based around the origins of the town and library officials are being consulted over the content of pictures which would illustrate how St Annes was founded by East Lancashire mill owners in the 19th century.

Local artists will also be encouraged to contribute works and it is hoped the trail will be a permanent fixture in the town, probably from next spring, with the hope that it will grow in future years.

The plan – which will feature artworks on boards from around two metres by one metre upwards – is still very much in its early stages but is based on the success of a similar attraction in Normandy.

It was suggested by Paul Heyes, who divides his time between his Book Bargains shop in St Andrew’s Road South, St Annes and one he also runs in La Gacilly, near Rennes, and has been given the approval of St Annes Chamber of Trade.

A steering committee call StArt, consisting of three officials of St Annes in Bloom, including chairman Ian Roberts, plus former St Annes mayor Barbara Mackenzie and the chairman of the Friends of St Annes Library, Anne Fielding, has been set up and is developing the idea.

A meeting has been arranged with Fylde Council regeneration chief Paul Drinnan for later this month to discuss how the plan might be incorporated into the ongoing upgrade of the town centre.

Funding sources have yet to be looked at in detail but it is hoped the trail can be set up at reasonably minimal cost.

Paul Heyes said: “The art trail in La Gacilly brings in lots of visitors and it would be great to see something similar here.”

Barbara Mackenzie, recently-elected new president of the Holiday Association of Lytham St Annes, said: “It’s a really excciting idea with so much potential and we are so grateful to Paul for suggesting it.

“The initial plan is to set up a trail of artworks either attached to the side of buildings or on free-standing boards along the length of Wood Street towards St Andrew’s Road South and then up to The Cresent.

“We have already been looking into the idea of the beginnings of the town being the initial theme and we are hoping that local artists will also contribute works.

“We have identified locations. Some might need planning permission but the initial respomnse from property owners has been very good and the initial outlay will be on the boards which will feature the art work and we hope we will be able to obtain those for a few hundred pounds.

“The aim is for it to grow and develop over the years, so visitors keep coming back and are perhaps attracted to parts of the town they might not otherwise visit.”

John Moxham, chairman of St Annes Chamber of Trade, said: “It sounds like a great idea and we would be delighted to support it. By all accounts, the similar event in France is a big attraction and any new idea which attracts visitors into the town and encourages them to stay and return has to be encouraged.”

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