University offers business leadership aid for Blackpool’s Grand Theatre

The team behind Blackpool’s Grand Theatre have had a helping hand from a Lancashire’s university to get the business back on track after Covid.

By Tim Gavell
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 12:30 pm

Experts at Edge Hill University’s Business School have worked with seven staff at the theatre to develop management and leadership skills as the venue gets back on its feet following the pandemic.

The theatre was closed for 536 days during the UK’s national lockdowns and was forced to make redundancies, with the majority of its staff placed on furlough.

During that time, its remaining staff received training from the University’s Leading Lancashire programme, which delivers fully-funded professional Chartered Management Institute qualifications.

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John Mercer, associate director of Edge Hill’s Business School and director of the university’s Leading Lancashire programme

It was part of the Leading Lancashire project, part-funded by the European Social Fund, which aims to develop the skills of employees and embed new leadership and management capabilities in the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises.

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John Mercer, associate director of Edge Hill’s Business School and director of the university’s Leading Lancashire programme, said: “The effects of the pandemic have left a damaging legacy on the creative arts industry.

"As a sector that employs a rich pool of entertainers and artists who have such a powerful talent to entertain and lift people’s spirits, it’s vitally important that these businesses are given the support and training they need to recover and kickstart their revival.”

Staff at Blackpool's Grand Theatre have been given leadership and management skills training by Edge Hill University business experts during the coronavirus lockdowns

Celine Wyatt, head of creative learning at Blackpool Grand Theatre, said: “It’s everyone’s distinctive right to have access to quality arts, sharing educational and positive experiences to help grow and sustain the community.

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the theatre industry, including our own venue. While we were unable to open our doors to the public, we saw the Leading Lancashire programme as an opportunity for our team to develop their leadership, project management and mentoring skills.

“Before the pandemic, the theatre employed 45 team members but didn’t have a formal training structure in place to help them develop. After such a difficult period, this experience has been great for morale, individual motivation and for giving staff a new, fresh approach to their work.”

The Leading Lancashire programme has supported 860 employees from 413 Lancashire based SMEs, with a limited number of places remaining.

Celine added: “Since reopening our doors, the initial signs of recovery are good and ticket sales are improving.

"Hopefully, as people become more confident about returning to the theatre, we can return to full capacity and expand our operations.

“It feels like the team are on the same page when approaching tasks and problem solving.

"You can hear the clarity and common language being used by the team and the focus on what we want to achieve is much clearer and sharper. We feel positive about the future.”

More information and details of how to apply for the Leading Lancashire programme can be accessed via the website.

Prior to the pandemic, Edge Hill’s Performing Arts students were given the opportunity to visit Blackpool Grand Theatre to watch their performers in action during dance workshops with the Gary Clarke Dance Company.