LeftCoast’s Artistic Director is moving on (but not too far away!) from his LeftCoast post and here in his own words Michael talks about his time in Blackpool…
After 4 years, 3 weeks, 17 hours and 4 seconds I have stepped aside as Director of LeftCoast to go back to my own artistic practice. But… I am not quite leaving the sunny shores of Blackpool and Wyre just yet, as there is one last project I want to help steer to fruition – the exciting Art Bed and Breakfast.
I am proud to say that LeftCoast is seen as one of the flagships of the 21 ‘Creative People and Places’ Projects – conceived by Arts Council England as a way of encouraging more people to enjoy or create contemporary arts and cultural experiences.
In mid-2013 there was just myself and fellow director Julia Turpin trying not to look too conspicuous, or too much like the remnants of an ‘80s post-punk experimental synth band, in the corner of Blackpool Coastal Housing’s office. We shuffled lots of paper, came up with over ambitious ideas and changed the name of the concept from ‘Playground of Wonders’ to ‘LeftCoast’ batting away ideas, with the help of Kate Shane from Merlin, that it might be mistaken for a some kind of neo-marxist political group.
We got down to business pretty quickly and since then the intrepid LeftCoast team have established festivals (SpareParts); run festivals (Showzam); commissioned new and exciting work in unusual places (from Absent by dreamthinkspeak in the Winter Gardens to Circa’s ‘Depart’ in Stanley park); collaborated with rich and vibrant communities to create new work (from 3-D printing sculptures using recycled plastic with the Rossall Beach Cleaners to cross-dressing alternative tours of South Beach) and supported the development of amazing local creative talent through the innovative LeftCoast Express and Future Popular programmes.
Of course this is just a tiny selection and much of our best work has been through working in partnership with the fantastic institutions of Blackpool Illuminations, Wyre Council, Blackpool Council’s cultural services (including the Grundy), Blackpool Grand Theatre, Better Start and many others.
If you haven’t had an experience with LeftCoast as an artist, a creative producer, an audience member, volunteer or a community group then my parting advice to you is…you should. It’s been created for you.
It’s been a fascinating, entertaining and deeply rewarding experience but I leave you in the far better and more capable hands of Tina Redford who is taking the helm. The very talented LeftCoast team of creative engagers, commissioners, producers, talent developers, marketeers and cultural enthusiasts can be contacted here .
I would be in danger of delivering an extremely long Oscar speech if I thanked everyone who had played along in the last 4 years (thank you) but special mention goes to Blackpool Coastal Housing who have tolerated and supported us with huge grace and Arts Council England who continue to support great art in the extraordinary places and spaces of Blackpool and Wyre.
A favourite moment, if forced to choose, would certainly be sitting on a recent artistic selection panel with the Police and the MAFIA (Mereside and Friends in Action) for a commission for the new regional police headquarters. The Mafia and the Police excited to be commissioning art together – perfect.