More Than 100 Stories is a commission led by artists Sarah Butler and Nicole Mollet that explores and creatively maps the Creative People and Places programme.

Cycling the ‘Northern Belt’ | Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th September: LeftCoast, Blackpool and Wyre


Again, I turn up tired from cycling, my bike spattered with mud and my cheeks flushed from hours cycling against a strong headwind. Tea and chocolate cake are immediately offered, along with a conversation with volunteer Pete and LeftCoast staff member Helen about how the Spare Parts Festival has grown out of the long standing Tram Sunday event in Fleetwood. Listening to Pete, I think about how essential these people are for CPP – local people with open minds, a willingness to try something new and the confidence to invite others to come along on the journey with them.


Sarah arriving in Blackpool

I visit Abingdon Studios with Garth – a member of LeftCoast’s staff and a local artist. He tells me he prefers talking about sustainability rather than legacy, because to him legacy means something has ended and becomes about nostalgia and looking back, whereas sustainability keeps us looking forward.

Abingdon Studios

Garth echoes what Cath said in St Helen’s about LeftCoast strengthening the position of arts and culture within the local council at a time of significant cuts.

The next day I visit Grow Blackpool’s allotment site where participants have been invited to a cook and eat session where they will use crockery they have designed and made with artist Emilie Taylor. The plates and bowls are lined up in the (very hot!) polytunnel and are exquisite – covered with hand drawn images and texts telling stories about food sharing, food growing, history and community. This is one of 5 commissions leading up to Banquet – a large scale food sharing event in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens. The space is calm, peaceful, with spaces for conversation or simply sitting. ‘It’s a perfect place for crafting’ Emilie tells me, ‘Time goes slower here.’

Grow Blackpool allotment

I go on to a community meeting on the Mereside Estate – interested in how LeftCoast have negotiated an approach to some new early years play funding to be artist led, and take the idea of ‘play’ across the whole estate, rather than simply building a new playground.

Some thoughts:

  • The difference between delivering work in brash, bullish Blackpool centre, in its outlying estates, and in the rural, more affluent, parts of Wyre.
  • The challenge of developing local artists and arts organisations – where are they coming from? Where is CPP coming from? Where is the place to meet?
  • How much is CPP there to lead/to hold hands, how much to offer opportunities and accept if they are not taken?
  • How do CPP projects negotiate their huge ambition, and approach to community-led work with the time-limited nature of their funding?