About Us

About Us

Our purpose is to ensure that arts and creativity is accessible for all Blackpool communities

Our Vision: 

  • A stronger, more resilient resident community are empowered to create a new narrative about the town
  • New work that provokes, surprises and entertains audiences is regularly made and performed in Blackpool and shared across the UK and around the world

Our Mission is to:

  • Provide transformative creative experiences that improve lives of local residents
  • Be valuable contributors to the town’s economy through a new hub of creative opportunities

Our Objectives are to:

  • Inspire individuals to connect with their own creativity through a menu of high-quality socially-engaged arts activities in Blackpool
  • Collaborate with others to reduce barriers to communities connecting with high quality arts programmes 
  • Support emerging creatives in their professional aspirations via regular development and employment opportunities
  • Develop a new hub of social connectivity and creative practice in the town
  • Generate income to support our aims to develop financial and organisational resilience

The Electric Sunshine Project* CIC (TESP) was formed in July 2016 by Melanie Whitehead.

Innovation; actively different from much of the commercial-entertainment offer currently available in the area but inspired by the local people, places and things we will engage in dialogue with other companies and venues regionally, nationally and internationally.

Illuminationresponding to the needs of the local community, offering new light by which we see ourselves, the society we live in and the world at large; learning, self-expression and self-reflection and the connection between healthy mind, body and spirit are at the core of everything we do.

Opportunitysupporting the development of emerging artists as well as linking with established industry experts, all activities are offered at reasonable rates to locals and regularity of service ensures the growth of long-term relationships and a stronger creative community.

The organisation is led by Melanie Whitehead and four directors;  Alan Hulme, Stephen Dunstan, Barb Wilcox and Stephanie Cottle who meet quarterly. We seek to be informed by the needs of the local community and have an Advisory Group who provide advice and guidance plus a pool of Associate Artists who bring with them a broad range of skills.

Artistic Director: Melanie Whitehead
Since graduating from Goldsmith’s College, University of London, with a BA (Hons) in English and Theatre Studies, Melanie has worked with young people in a diverse range of fields including for 8.5 years at the Royal Shakespeare Company and currently for the National Theatre for whom she oversees regional learning partnerships on a part-time basis for both War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

In April 2013, she bought a derelict warehouse in Blackpool and is currently in the process of turning it into a family home. She has a Post Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Shakespeare as well as a Chartered Institute of Marketing Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing. She was an Educational Consultant for Touring Consortium Theatre Company, produced and directed Blackpool Grand Theatre’s NT Connections Youth Theatre two-years running and continues to manage participation projects for organisations such as The Lowry, LeftCoast, Tameside Borough Council and Fleetwood Festival of Transport.

Board Director + Treasurer: Stephen Dunstan
Stephen joined us in December 2018. He is an ICAEW chartered accountant and works as Director of Resources at Blackpool Coastal Housing. He has a Masters in Public Administration from the Open University. His involvement in arts includes volunteering with LeftCoast and AltBlackpool, and attending TEPS’s playwriting course. His other interests include natural history and he regularly surveys oceans for whales and dolphins with the Marinelife charity.

Board Director: Barbara Wilcox
Barb worked for 34-years in the NHS as nurse, midwife and health visitor before following her lifetime love of theatre to UCLAN where she graduated with a first class BA Hons in Drama, Theatre & Screenwriting followed by an MA in Scriptwriting. Her relationship with performing started as a young Bluecoat at Pontins and she has been an active member of many Fylde Amateur Dramatic Societies but she found her true second home at Chorley Little Theatre where, over the last 30-years, she has played every role from chorus line to solo artist, set designer, house manager, producer, writer and director! Barbara was invited to take part in our New Views playwriting course and became a TESP Director, November 2019.

Board Director + Chair: Stephanie Cottle
Stephanie became a TESP Board member in January 2020, was born in Wigan and had an interest in arts from an early age; studying theatre at GSCE and A-level before graduating from Leeds with a BA (Hons) in Art & Performance. She moved to Blackpool; working in compliance for a finance company and gaining her PGCE, teaching Performance. She was subsequently offered a studentship PhD in Art & Design which she is currently undertaking. Working alongside In Certain Places and Uclan University, the PhD addresses notions of place and how artists interact with environment. In addition she works part time as a development worker, coaching and mentoring socially isolated members of the community for mental health charity Making Space and is a trustee for CVS Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre.

Board Director: Laura White
Laura is the Chief Officer of the Magic Club, a youth charity in Claremont, Blackpool. Experienced in Community Development and with a keen interest in socially engaged arts practice, she loves working with communities to support them to make the changes they want to see. She is really passionate about Blackpool and  delighted to be on the TESP Board. 

Board Director: Rachael Slater
After achieving a 2:1 in Drama and Education from the University of Chester, Rachael started her career as a Community Arts Practitioner with notable early commissions from Barnardo’s and Styal Womens Prison. Subsequently she went on to complete her PGCE specialising in Post Compulsory and Adult Education. With twenty years experience of multi-disciplinary working within communities in Blackpool and the Fylde Coast. Rachael now leads on NCS delivery across Cumbria and Lancashire for Inspira, a multi award winning personal and career development organisation.

We have Worldwide Full Civil Professional Indemnity Insurance up to £50,000 plus Public Liability Insurance for European Union up to £1,000,000 underwritten by Hiscox Insurance Company Ltd.

All members of TESP with regular/direct contact with young people hold a DBS certificate with online updates. Most practitioners have some form of First-Aid training and all are contracted to adhere to our Child Protection and Health & Safety Policies. Practitioner information is available on request at point of contract.

Generic risk assessments have been carried out for the main body of our activity and these are available to view.

We aim to work within organisations and venues’ own policies and procedures.

*In 1879, Blackpool became the first municipality in the world to have electric street lighting – they called it ‘Electric Sunshine’. We are inspired by this ambition and seek to influence a new narrative about Britain’s best loved seaside town through innovative attitudes to arts.