Blackpool music venue’s struggle after missing out on Covid grant

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The Abingdon Street bar’s application to receive the Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) grant was marked as unsuccessful in April

Both Blackpool Constituency MP’s are making representations to The Arts Council England on behalf of The Galleon Bar regarding missing out on the much needed Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) grant.
Both Blackpool Constituency MP’s are making representations to The Arts Council England on behalf of The Galleon Bar regarding missing out on the much needed Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) grant. (Image: The Galleon Bar)

Blackpool MPs have thrown their support behind a popular music venue that is fighting for its survival.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP and Blackpool South MP Scott Benton are making representations to The Arts Council England on behalf of The Galleon Bar regarding missing out on the much needed Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) grant.

The live music venue on Abingdon Street made a bid to get a much-needed £60,000 out of the government’s £400 million fund however the application was marked unsuccessful in April due to being “over-subscribed”.

Owner and professional musician Stephen Pierre, along with staff and musicians at the venue, have created the ‘Save the Galleon’ campaign after feeling the decision-making process didn’t acknowledge or recognise its disadvantaged trading position.

The interior of the Galleon bar is decorated with instruments and memorabilia donated my supporters within the music industry
The interior of the Galleon bar is decorated with instruments and memorabilia donated my supporters within the music industry

A Facebook post from The Galleon bar said: “This unfair decision was not made by Blackpool Council.

“Blackpool Council have shown their support for The Galleon Bar and administered the local restrictions grants as instructed by central government without delay.

“In stark comparison, the neighbouring grass music roots venue , Bootleg Social (Topping Street) received £121,000 CRF funding from The Arts Council .

“How can this decision possibly be fair if the CRF fund was stated as over subscribed? Considering the scrutiny of public funds , transparency and fair play in society.”

The first Galleon bar was established in 1954 and has since proved itself as a longstanding community asset that has benefited the Blackpool and The Fylde Coast for decades.

Many musicians of all ages have appreciated the grassroots music venue with no other of its kind sponsoring and presenting jazz and blues festivals in Blackpool.

It has also help raise the cultural profile of the town by holding free public events staged on a not for profit basis.

The interior of the bar is adorned with instruments and memorabilia donated by supporters within the music industry.

Music legend and pianist Jools Holland once paid a visit to the Galleon in 2015 and said it was “the best decorated music bar in Europe.”

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said: “The current situation is that several Blackpool businesses have been granted funding by the Arts Council including the likes of Blackpool’s Grand Theatre, along with others around the UK.

“I was aware that The Galleon live music venue had put in an application and was disappointed to learn that it had got rejected.

“I have therefore decided to make representations to The Arts Council England on behalf of the Galleon for it to take another look at the application.”

The Galleon Bar is encouraging people to send their support to the Arts Council England.

The Galleon bar in Blackpool has been established since 1954
The Galleon bar in Blackpool has been established since 1954

A spokesperson for the Arts Council England said: “While the Culture Recovery Fund is the biggest one-off investment in culture in the nation’s history, the crisis is unprecedented and we regret that not every organisation can be helped at this time. Rightly, the criteria to be awarded a grant are rigorous, but we have been able to support every applicant that met all the criteria.

“We understand that organisations that were unsuccessful will be disappointed and we have published resources both for organisations and individuals, which include alternative sources of support.

“We remain committed to doing all we can to care for the people and organisations that make up this country’s amazing cultural ecology, who do so much to serve communities in towns, villages, and cities across the country.”

LancsLive has approached Blackpool Council for comment.

 

Runshaw College moves to online learning after Covid cases confirmed

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Rushaw College bosses said two cases have been reported within the ‘college community’

Runshaw College
Runshaw College

Students at Runshaw College will move to remote learning from tomorrow (May 7) after positive coronavirus cases were confirmed.

In a message sent to pupils, education bosses said two positive tests were reported on Thursday within the ‘college community’.

Following discussions with Public Health England throughout today, the Leyland-based college has now asked students to learn online at home from Friday (May 7) to Monday (May 17).

Both campuses will be shut for the next 10 days.

The message read: “Dear Student, we have become aware today of some potential issues in relation to 2 positive COVID cases in our college community.

“Of course, these cases have been swiftly and safely dealt with in accordance with our college procedures and risk assessment.

“We have been working closely with Public Health England during the course of the day, to identify the best way of continuing to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our college community.

“As a result, we have taken the decision to move to online learning for all students tomorrow (Friday 7th May).

“We will send a further update as soon as we can, regarding any further details.

“For tomorrow, please access your normal timetabled lessons online and your teachers will provide further guidance and support.

“If you need to speak to your Progress Mentor then please get in touch with them via phone, email or MS Teams. Also, support is available as usual via our Student Services Teams, you can contact them by phone or email.

“Thank you for your support and cooperation once again.”

Runshaw College message sent to students on Thursday, May 6
Runshaw College message sent to students on Thursday, May 6

In a second statement posted on the college website later on Thursday evening, a spokesperson said: “We are working closely with Public Health England (PHE) and Lancashire County Council in relation to some specific cases of COVID-19 among the college community.

“Of course, these cases have been swiftly and safely dealt with in accordance with our COVID-secure Risk Assessment.

“In agreement with PHE, in order to ensure the health and safety of all members of our college community, we have taken the decision to move to online learning and working, starting on Friday 7th May and returning to face-to-face teaching on campus from Monday 17th May.

“Both campuses will be fully closed during this period.

“All lessons will be delivered online and students can be sure of a continually high-quality learning experience throughout, with outstanding pastoral support.”

LancsLive reported earlier this evening how 90 new coroanvirus cases were recorded across the county in the latest 24-hour period.

This includes 24 positive tests in Preston, six in Chorley and four in South Ribble.

Star Wars: Andor filming halted as predictable Lancashire weather hits

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Cast and crew members were forced to seek shelter on multiple occasions due to the rain

Star Wars: Andor cast and crew are battered by the wind and rain
Star Wars: Andor cast and crew are battered by the wind and rain

Filming of the new Star Wars: Andor series on the Fylde coast has ground to a halt today (May 6) due to predictably poor weather.

Cast and crew members of the new Disney+ show have been forced to seek shelter on multiple occasions, according to those at the set, as wind and rain have battered the county.

The unseasonably cold weather is expected to continue for the rest of the week and into the weekend.

Cleveleys has been at the epicentre of the excitement since the highly-anticipated TV spin-off began filming last month.

TV crews, film sets and props can be see dotted around the seafront as filming starts on the series, which will feature Rogue One’s Diego Luna and Hollywood heavyweight Stellan Skarsgard, who has starred in the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean, the Avengers Cinematic Universe, and Mamma Mia.

The cast and crew cover up as rain batters the Fylde coast
The cast and crew cover up as rain batters the Fylde coast (Image: The Bpl Bible/LancsLive)

Residents have already spotted Diego Luna, as well as Stormtroopers as the cameras get rolling.

Photographs from the resort yesterday (May 5) show them in action on set, surrounded by palm trees on the beach.

A cafe along the prom in Cleveleys – Cafe Cove – has also transformed with a Sci-Fi lick of paint for the new show.

A helicopter with a front-mounted camera has been seen yesterday as filming continued.

The AS355 helicopter is currently one of many in a fleet from Hangar Aviation Services at Blackpool airport who offer aerial filming and photography who have the privilege of looking after this air craft and the crew whilst filming takes place.

The dark blue chopper was spotted circling over Rossall beach promenade before heading out to sea.

Laura Ellinsworth from Thornton-Cleveleys, witnessed the aerial filming and said: “It’s all very exciting for our little seaside town! They were moving equipment about with cranes for the staging too this morning, including palm trees!”

Earlier this week (May 4) three mobile cafe restaurants arrived and parked behind the old Harvester restaurant on Jubilee Park.

Usually these vehicles seat more than 80 people each however the capacity is believed to have reduced due to Covid-19.

Despite the reduction however this gives a good idea of the number of cast members currently on set.

Electrics are believed to have been put in place and there are unconfirmed reports that action scenes are being filmed on the beach today.

Location hire firm Buddha Group have also been spotted setting up green screen frames and telehandlers.

Yesterday’s helicopter was spotted just days after a Bombardier Global 6000 jet, landed at Blackpool Airport at 9.35am on Sunday (May 2) having set off from Barbados in the Caribbean some 7 hours and 44 minutes earlier.

 

How one Fleetwood man organised the biggest UK rave since early 2020

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With events cancelled across the UK for the last 15 months due to Covid, Fleetwood’s own Sam Newson was tasked with putting on the first trial event that saw 6,000 enjoy non-socially distant raving fun

The First Dance rave events at Bramley Moore Dock
The First Dance rave events at Bramley Moore Dock (Image: Sam Newson)

With the coronavirus pandemic bringing normality to a standstill for the last 15 months, it’s been a turbulent time for anything and everything involving leaving your house and meeting other people.

Countless gigs cancelled, festivals postponed, community events binned, pubs closed and entire industries out of work.

But for many, especially in the events business, there is now a glimmer of light at the end of the pandemic’s tunnel.

And that glimmer of light could be seen shining through the roof of the Bramley Moore Dock on the River Mersey last Friday and Saturday.

It was there that – despite some locals thinking something illegal was going on and calling it in to Merseyside Police – the first legal non-socially distant event took place since the first few months of 2020.

Dubbed The First Dance, it saw some 6,000 people crammed into the venue across the two days in what was the first trial event for returning to large, close contact gatherings as the country appears to finally be firmly in control of the Covid-19 world we find ourselves living in.

And the man behind making the logistics of making those two raves happen was Lancashire’s Sam Newson.

The Fleetwood-born events management boss was roped in by Merseyside promotion outfit Circus to make it a reality.

In a normal year, Sam, who heads up The Events Company UK based in his hometown as well as Los Angeles and Manchester, would put on 200 shows in 40 to 50 countries.

“The buck falls with us for these events,” Sam said, who has previously put on shows for Calvin Harris and The Chainsmokers.

“We’re brought in to sort everything out from the toilets to the lights, the security fences, signs, queuing, branding. But for the last year, it’s been non-existent.”

Back in 2020, Yousef Zaher from Circus had spoke to the likes of Keir Starmer and Prince William about the possibility of test events in the coming months.

“He said if there are any test events going on, please look at us as we’ve a great site and a great production team. But we didn’t hear anything for months and then we went back into lockdown,” Sam said.

But the call did eventually come, testing the waters for possible trial events.

Not long after Sam and Yousef were given four weeks to make The First Dance a reality.

“It was a mammoth task and Circus asked ‘can you deliver?’ to which I said of course we can,” Sam said.

Daily calls started between Sam, and Circus, Liverpool City Council, police, the fire service, and government ministers.

Sam said: “This was the first non-socially distant music event in the country for 15 months. It was an incredibly nervous thing to be doing, the pressure of what the results of this could mean for the industry and reopening was immense.

“Our industry is a life. It’s not a nine to five job, people dedicate their lives to this.”

With the events industry being non-existent since early 2020, Sam described those in it as part of a “collaborative” movement right now with “everyone talking to each other and working together”.

“A 3,000 capacity gig is for many in my line of work one of the smallest events we’ll put on in a year,” Sam said.

While it lacked in numbers, for Sam, the historic nature of the event saw it become the biggest of his career to date.

Those who attended The First Dance had to have a negative lateral flow test – commonly called a rapid test – 24 hours before heading on down. They were they given the option of taking home a PCR test after the event to take – something Sam said there had been a “positive” uptake for – followed by a follow up PCR test five days later.

“For us it is a bit of a cliche but it is simple. Test today and reopen tomorrow. And I think the public are onboard with that message,” Sam said.

Even with the capacity of the event being somewhat small compared to large scale gigs that we’re used to, some 400 members of staff were involved in making it happen, including 60 security staff and 150 bar staff.

“It was amazing,” Sam said.

“I genuinely got a tear in my eye. On the morning of it arriving at the site I knew this was something special. I was stood on the stage just after the first DJ come off and the second act broke into tears at being back doing what they love to do. It’s something that at one point saw us asking ourselves ‘will we ever get back to doing this?’

“For me it was the all for the staff. These are people who have been around the world together, who see their colleagues more than their own families. I believe I work with the best group of people in the world and to see them celebrating this together was one of the most special parts of the weekend.”

Sam Newson with dad Richard at the The First Dance rave events at Bramley Moore Dock
Sam Newson with dad Richard at the The First Dance rave events at Bramley Moore Dock (Image: Sam Newson)

The Events Company UK is a family affair for Sam, with dad Richard working for the firm after serving in the police for some 20 years. The First Dance events also saw Sam rope in mum Joanne to help.

“I couldn’t deliver what we do without dad,” Sam said, who started his events career doing mobile discos at the age 12 with dad Richard driving him around the Fylde coast from event to event. The Events Company UK was founded in 2012 after Sam focused on the events management side of the industry.

“He’s an integral part of the business. In a standard year I can spend months abroad – in 2019 I spent six months in LA – so I rely on him when I’m out the country.”

Dad Richard took to local Facebook groups in the last few days to celebrate the success of the events – and his son’s part in making them happen.

Richard wrote: “Proud dad post – my son Sam Newson is the person responsible for putting on ‘The First Dance’. From all the production companies in the world he was asked to plan and organise the show.

“It was amazing and hopefully will lead to the reopening of pubs and clubs across the country

“Not bad for a Fleetwood lad.”

Back in Lancashire, The Events Company UK helps make Lancaster’s Highest Point Festival a reality. Sam is also keen to organise a large community event in his hometown of Fleetwood in the coming months, with the company behind the Fleetwood Fireworks Extravaganza in non-Covid times.

For 2021, the festival has expanded to include an extra evening of music through iconic Manchester rockers James.

“We’ve been with Highest Point since day one,” Sam said. “There’s almost a symbiotic relationship there.

“It’s been doing good this year and we thought that we could do something a bit different on the Thursday. It’s a gamble but hopefully it will work and take off.”

The outcome of the trial raves wont be known for a good few weeks, with scientists set to analyse relevant data outcomes of how it went to see if it can be deemed a success – and what that means for events in general.

“Everyone is poised and ready to get back to it,” Sam said.

“For now, we don’t know what will happen. But it is important to plans in place for the public and for the public to keep buying tickets. Without them we can’t continue.

“All the signs are pointing in the right direction to get back to doing what we love most.”