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School of Arts' Annie heads creative boost for Blackpool

Published on 04/09/2021 by SGLAS


Annie - formerly Head of Creative and Digital at Blackburn College - is already getting a great sense of how Blackpool School of Arts at B&FC changes lives.

"It’s a dream to be working with a team that's already developed an outstanding reputation in arts education," said Annie.

"There's a strong sense of creative community at Blackpool School of Arts and I hope to expand opportunities for individuals, groups and employers with different options to study with us over the coming years.

"I want to ensure that every student confidently contributes to the creative industries at a local, regional, national and international level.

"My ambition is to ensure that Blackpool School of Arts makes a significant contribution to the rebuilding of the creative economy post pandemic.

"I'm also excited about strengthening our industry links so Blackpool School of Arts can further contribute to the already great creative ecosystem within Blackpool, and far beyond our town."

"There is a drive to provide excellence, for students to receive the very best possible experience that they can. The pace is fast and everyone has a sense of purpose,” she said.

"This is a School of Art truly embodying its pillars of community, connectivity and process.

“Blackpool and the Fylde Coast has a dynamic and valuable creative community and it is wonderful that this community has its own School of Art.

“This is clearly being recognised with increasing numbers of students choosing to study in a specialist art school setting for their college or university experience. 

“Those with a talent or interest in having a career in the design, visual or performance arts are taking advantage of the unique creative opportunities that the school provides.  

“The feedback that I have heard directly from our students has highlighted the inspiring opportunities they have continued to enjoy even during the recent lockdown challenges.”

It’s World Art Day today (Thursday 15 April) – a time to remember the benefits to our lives of all things creative. Art has never been so important, as people look to bring light to their lives through pursuits distracting from the pandemic.

“World Art Day helps us focus on the importance of art in looking more widely at the world and finding new opportunities to thrive through thinking and acting creatively,” said Annie.

“Art and creative expression supports our mental health and wellbeing. It’s been good to see in the past year an explosion in the ways everyone can discover and experience art. Now lockdown is easing, there’s a chance to bring everything we’ve learned from the virtual to the physical world.

"There are an abundance of creative opportunities and also the lessons we learn from art and its application lend themselves to successful in many if not all industry sectors."

One of Annie’s first tasks while settling in at B&FC's Park Road campus was to help judge the annual Young Seasiders Arts and Crafts Exhibition - a celebration of creativity that illuminated to her how the community works together to develop opportunities for the arts. That event was for the first time hosted online – in a virtual world created by Blackpool School of Arts’ specialist practitioner, Aaron Tonks.

Annie explained: "Throughout my life I have been fortunate to be surrounded by a great sense of creativity which gave me the opportunity to experience and develop a love of art, music and performance from a young age.

"My earliest memory from Blackpool was taking part in the UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Winter Gardens - with Phillip Schofield."

Annie's been involved in the creative sector all her professional life. "I began my career working with advertising agencies in Manchester and London, and then joined a music production company producing jingles for BBC idents, radio and TV commercials.

"I then became a Marketing and Advertising undergraduate at London College of Printing (now University Arts London) when I also developed a love of flowers.

"I went on to study commercial floristry and floral design at the same place, and after working within the floristry industry joined  Myerscough College where I worked alongside a number of international floral artists.

“I've since provided floral decorations for Tate Modern, Banqueting House London, Houghton Tower and RHS Tatton as well as for private events & wedding at locations including London, New York and Key West in Florida."

Annie worked in a range of senior further and higher education roles before joining the B&FC curriculum leadership team.

"One standout moment from my education career happened on a study trip to London. Waiting outside The National Gallery, one student asked me if I thought there would be any real paintings in there. I remember how her eyes lit up when I explained what she might find as she explored.

"That was a truly inspirational moment for both her and I, highlighting to me the richness of opportunity that education can bring."

Annie's played an influential role not only in teaching but creating curricula supporting students' long-term success in the workplace.

"I've written new qualification specifications for BTEC Pearson, been part of steering groups for National Occupational Standards in Floristry, as a leadership member of the Creative & Cultural Skills National Skills Academy and with the British Council to contribute to case studies highlighting the impact of culture on place.”

Learn more

World Art Day
Blackpool School of Arts