Fears over future of Blackpool's arts scene

Town hall leaders have agreed to carry out an assessment of the impact of the Covid pandemic on Blackpool’s culture and arts scene.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 9:25 am
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 9:26 am

Venues ranging from the Winter Gardens and Grand Theatre to individual artists and performers have been unable to operate during lockdowns.

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While government and Arts Council grants have been handed out to support the sector, there is still uncertainty ahead with many businesses expecting to operate under restrictions when they can reopen.

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The Grand Theatre

The Grand Theatre’s capacity will be reduced to just 350 from 1,053 if one metre social distancing is required.

A report to the council’s tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee says: “In Blackpool, a variety of cultural venues have been required to close and could be at risk due to reduced trading revenues during enforced closure, and continuing restrictions when allowed to open.

“Maintaining and supporting the cultural sector in Blackpool is of key importance to the town’s economic and social wellbeing.

“The full impact of Covid-related restrictions on the cultural sector in Blackpool is unknown as the country cautiously emerges out of lockdown in line with the government’s roadmap to recovery. ”

The Cultural Services Team will gather information from a cross section of organisations and self-employed creatives such as visual artists, dancers etc.

This will include measuring the impact on short term viability and longer term sustainability.

Questions were raised at the meeting about why a Blackpool b&b had been singled out for additional Covid grant support.

Coun Gerard Walsh asked why the Art B&B on the Promenade had received £73,000 from the Arts Council Cultural Recognition Fund.

He asked a meeting of the scrutiny committee: “Why has it been given special status?”

Carolyn Primmet, head of arts at Blackpool Council, said the B&B was run as a community interest company.

She said: “I don’t think they have got the funding towards their core business as a b&b, it will be towards the arts programme they are delivering.”

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