Page last updated at 08:49 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 09:49 UK

Tower venue gets 4m grant boost

Maxine Callow in front of headland site
The performance space will be built in front of the tower

Plans for a 20,000-capacity outdoor performance space on Blackpool seafront have been given a 4m boost.

The 11m Tower Festival Headland, situated in front of the tower, will transform the area into a year-round urban park, regeneration chiefs say.

It will be supported by a 5.4m events programme of theatre, dance and music, funded by private and public money.

Resort bosses say they have previously missed out on hosting major events due to a lack of suitable outdoor venue.

As well as attracting new visitors, authorities hope the new venue can help its ambitions to become the UK's "capital of dance".

Councillor Maxine Callow, cabinet member for tourism and regeneration, described the funding as "vital".

Employment hopes

She said: "The Tower Headland will provide something we have never had in Blackpool before.

"We are currently in the position that we cannot hold some major events and performances as we don't have appropriate outdoor space available.

"Not only will the headland play host to the biggest events Blackpool has ever seen it will also provide a fantastic opportunity for community groups and schools to put on smaller performances."

The grant is part of the government's Sea Change programme which will see seaside resorts given a share of 15m each year between 2008 and 2011.

The headland space will form part of the 78m redevelopment of the central seafront, which also includes new sea walls and promenade.

Sir Howard Bernstein, who was recently appointed chairman of the resort's regeneration body, ReBlackpool, said the entertainment space could lead to further investment.

Sir Howard said he believed it would provide "new commercial and employment opportunities for businesses and residents".

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