For British seaside resorts, rejuvenation in small doses
Michael Trainor, a once local artist (he now lives in Scotland), explained that this is mainly due to a combination of location and size. The sun can be elusive on the Irish Sea coast, even in summer, he noted.
“It was the original Victorian chutzpah to put it on a cold chunk of the northwest coast. Crazy from start to finish. Plus, most of the accommodation here is indescribable and newly built, with little detail to inspire (the Edwardian homes around Stanley Park are a notable exception). The average UK home price at the end of the year in August was $ 387,000; Blackpool’s average selling price in July 2021 was around $ 170,000.
Mr Trainor, 54, said Blackpool’s attractions, including its iconic Eiffel Tower-inspired tower, were built to appeal to mass market crowds, primarily for the working classes in Manchester factories. As a result, attracting new creative talent is much more difficult; the costs and risks are much higher.
Still, Mr Trainor, who is the former head of LeftCoast, an arts organization in the city, is not discounting the chances of Blackpool. He first came to town on a commission and helped defend its art scene for several years. And it’s gaining some national attention: Britain’s Arts Council named it a priority area in September.
One of Mr. Trainor’s most exciting projects is Art B&B, a 19-room reinvention of a typical bed and breakfast, with each room uniquely designed by an artist. Christopher Samuel, for example, designed one to help ambulatory clients understand the inconvenience he experiences in most hotels as a wheelchair user.
Profits from Art B&B are intended to be reinvested in the local creative scene, and Mr. Trainor proudly noted that the hotel’s revenue this summer has exceeded all expectations.
“Blackpool has the same issues as all the UK beach towns,” he said, “but it’s by far the most visited so it becomes a concentrated version of everything that happens there, good and bad. “