£85k creative hub planned to boost Blackburn's economy
BLACKBURN town centre could become a creative hub like Manchester’s celebrated Northern Quarter thanks to an £85,000 Arts Council grant.
The cash will pay for an ambitious two-year programme of artistic projects.
The Arts Council has given the go-ahead to the innovative scheme drawn up by Blackburn with Darwen council.
Borough leisure chiefs hope supporting the arts and creative industries will boost its ambitious regeneration strategy for the central area.
The scheme follows research into how they play a key role in kick-starting local economies.
Described as a plan to establish a ‘creative town centre of excellence,’ it draws on the 1990s transformation of Manchester’s Northern Quarter from a run-down area near the Victoria rail and Shudehill bus stations into the current vibrant hub for the creative industries, distinctive bars and coffee shops and independent businesses such as those in Afflecks ‘Emporium’.
Other examples of such successes researched include Edinburgh’s use of its festival and fringe to boost the Scottish capital’s economy and international reputation, Holbeck urban village in Leeds, a similar project in Hackney East London and the dramatic effect of the Hay-on-Wye literary festival on turning the town into the book capital of Wales since 1988.
The scheme will support the careers of arts and creative students from Blackburn College to get town centre studio spaces and ‘pop ups’ in empty shops to produce and sell work. They will be mentored by experts in promoting their products and running a business.
The grant secures the future of the annual Founded festival of live art, music and technology, currently in its second year.
This year’s centrepiece by acclaimed artist Beth Derbyshire is an impressive wooden structure to travel by canal barge to Blackburn town centre.
Borough leisure boss Damian Talbot said: “This is fantastic news for Blackburn and hopefully this exciting project will help put the town firmly on the cultural map.
“Making the town centre an artistic and cultural destination is key to the regeneration of the town and will help create a vibrant and bustling town centre that attracts visitors.”