Business experts at Edge Hill University have helped one of the UK’s most iconic heritage theatres to recover from the impact of Covid-19.
Edge Hill’s Business School has worked with seven staff at Blackpool Grand Theatre to develop their management and leadership skills as the venue gets back on its feet following the pandemic.
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.”
Blackpool Grand Theatre was closed for a total of 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, the theatre’s remaining staff received training from the University’s Leading Lancashire programme, which delivers fully-funded professional Chartered Management Institute (CMI) qualifications.
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 work that we do is driven by the needs of the community, meaning that we shape and produce projects that will have a real impact and inspire a life-long love of theatre.
“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 project, part-funded by the European Social Fund, aims to develop the skills of employees and embed new leadership and management capabilities in the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The programme has supported over 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.”
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.
Edge Hill’s Business School offers students an environment to grow and develop, enriched by its partnerships with some of the world’s leading universities, key national and regional employers and businesses and with the major professional bodies across its degree subjects.