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Agenda item


To gain understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on arts and culture in Blackpool in order to inform the recovery planning process.


Mr Peter Legg, Head of Economic and Cultural Services and Ms Carolyn Primett, Head of Arts, presented a report outlining the impact the Covid-19 lockdown on arts and culture within Blackpool.


Mr Legg highlighted that many creative industries within Blackpool had struggled during the lockdown period when they had been forced to close. As part of the work being undertaken to assess the extent of the impact the Council had undertaken a survey of members of the Heritage Action Zone (HAZ). Although the report had outlined some initial feedback from this survey Mr Legg informed members that a more detailed analysis was required the outcome of which could be presented to the Committee in the autumn.


Ms Primett added that the lockdown had impacted differently on the various cultural venues across Blackpool. Many of these were reported as preparing to reopen as the lockdown restrictions were lifted, and the Council would seek to support them through this period. It was also highlighted that the Grundy Art Gallery had been able to open due to the small number of staff who worked there. As part of this Ms Primett informed the Committee that during May 2021 it was planned that an exhibition of works of art done during lockdown would be shown. It was hoped that this would help promote the various artists involved and highlight Blackpool as a cultural venue.


Members asked if more could be undertaken to join-up the various cultural and artistic venues in Blackpool, possibly through the creation of a cultural hub within the town. Ms Primett replied that work had been undertaken to bring the cultural sector in Blackpool together, through joint marketing and the sharing of resources. Increased networking to highlight opportunities was also mentioned, and Ms Primett informed members that consideration had also been given to the establishment of a ‘Cultural Partnership’ to further joint working.


The Committee noted that £73K had been awarded to the Art B&B from round two of the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF-2). Members asked why the Art B&B had been able to apply for this money when other hotels in Blackpool had not and would have received far less in business support grants. Ms Primett responded that the Council had no input into CRF-2, however she noted that the rules for receiving funding would mean that any grantwould be to support a cultural programme and not the core hotel business.


The work undertaken by various venues to maintain patronage and interest in cultural events in Blackpool was also reported. Ms Primett informed the Committee that the Grand theatre had streamed its Christmas Pantomime online, when it had been unable to welcome an audience to the venue. This approach had also been undertaken by a variety of smaller cultural groups to allow ongoing engagement.


The use of Blackpool’s green spaces was raised as a possible solution to the restrictions on indoor performance, where numbers could be restricted. In response Ms Primett explained that the Council had recognised the opportunity that this had presented. For example it was noted that an Arts Council Grant had been received by the Lightpool festival to design new lights which would be used as part of outdoor displays. Stanley Park was also being considered as a venue for a number of smaller events.


Members also asked what had been undertaken to ensure that young people were engaged with arts and culture in Blackpool. Ms Primett responded that a number of cultural groups and venues had undertaken work, such as the Grundy which had worked with the ‘A-Team’ a group for young people with autism to deliver creative projects and dances classes had been organised in Stanley Park specifically aimed at young people.


Councillor Campbell added that lockdown had forced people to find new and innovative ways of delivering cultural events and engage with people. She added that she expected this would continue into the future.


The Committee thanked Mr Legg and Ms Primett for the update and agreed that a further report outlining the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown and the recovery work being undertaken be brought to a review panel meeting in September 2021 for further consideration.

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