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.
Illumination; responding 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.
Opportunity; supporting 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; Joanna Cassidy, Alan Hulme and Kieran McGuinness 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: Joanna Cassidy
Jo became a TESP Director in October 2017. Jo is currently working as a University lecturer in Performing Arts at Blackpool and the Fylde College. As well as continuing to work professionally as an Actor and Theatre Maker, Jo plays keyboard and sings vocals in the band Section 25. Her practice focusses on the use of Verbatim Theatre as a tool for creating socially engaged theatre as well as exploring strong character driven comedic female characters in solo shows. She is inspired by the work of DV8, Alecky Blythe, Steve Coogan, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne and Joe Lycett to name (drop) but a few.
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.
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’. This new CIC aims to capture the essence of the aspirations for Britain’s best loved seaside town from those glory days and, through innovative attitudes to the arts, reinvent a small corner of the North West. x