Blackburn is Open is a community led initiative which provided discounted retail space for designer-makers and craftspeople, a temporary cinema, and programme of events, including festivals and markets.
Conceived in partnership with Claire Tymon, Blackburn is Open is a project that has left a positive legacy that continues to deliver significant impact in Blackburn. It is a piece of placemaking, that turned a failing retail street around, was stimulus for an evening economy, the catalyst for a maker facility and co-working space, and a national festival.
Blackburn with Darwen has a percentage of employees in the manufacturing sector (17.1%, 12,000) that is greater than the GB average (8.1%). It was this statistic that made us realise that we had the licence to start to claim that Blackburn could be considered the UK’s pre-eminent making town.
The next stage in the town’s “making” narrative included The Blackburn Making Rooms and National Festival of Making for which we obtained over £250,000 from Arts Council England (and others) to establish. Attracting nearly 40,000 people, the festival takes over the town centre, implementing the original aims of the Blackburn is Open initiative, using the town’s assets to create something truly inventive and original.
Read more about Blackburn is Open here.