About Us

About Us

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

We are a collective of high-quality workshops, events, projects and performances, primarily produced in Blackpool, that seek to engage those who are least connected to the arts and which can be taken elsewhere.

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 touring 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 three directors;  Alan Hulme, Kieran McGuinness and Stephen Dunstan 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: Alan Hulme
Alan became a TESP Director in February 2018, is passionate about gardening and beekeeping and started his social enterprise Urban Organic (UK) CIC in 2014 to bring these therapeutic activities to a wider audience. He has a particular interest in the myriad of solutions that communities find to improve their environment and volunteers as a RHS North West in Bloom judge, visiting community projects and In Bloom groups across Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester. Having trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens of both Kew and Edinburgh and with an M.Sc. in Plant Taxonomy he has a scientific background in the natural world. As well as working across the Fylde Coast he delivers workshops for the ORA Network across Europe, working on outdoor projects with young people which combine art, gardening and environmental issues.

Board Director: Kieran McGuinness
Kieran has a wealth of experience in both commercial and community theatre and currently works for an international out-servicing company within the financial sector, which has been in this role for 14 years. As an actor he toured the UK and Germany and was heavily involved with ISTA (International Schools Theatre Association); a community of young people, teachers and artists from different countries who aim to inspire participants to create, learn and experience theatre. Kieran initially became involved with The Electric Sunshine Project by participating in a new writers course in 2017. Since then he has been passionate about representing the voices of the often unheard on the stage. He is inspired by the work of Neil Simon, DV8, Arthur Miller and some guy called Shakespeare. Kieran joined us in April 2018.

Board Director: 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.

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.