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The Re-opening and Future Development of Flo Skatepark, Nottingham

Alex Hallford, Eggplant; Photo: by Harry Watson, Insta: @harrywilliamwatson

On the 20th October, Flo Skatepark, Nottingham, will reopen with a packed programme, including beginners’ sessions on the Saturday and Sunday mornings followed by open sessions for all users.  Flo will then be open for every day of the Half Term period, resuming its usual programme of skateboard-only nights on a Thursday, BMX-only nights on a Wednesday and women and girls only skateboard nights on the first Saturday of every month (starting on the 3rd November), with all users welcome during other times.  There will be a range of other high-profile events through the autumn and winter, including a Community Skate Film Festival on the weekend of the 16th-18th November supported by a Nottingham Together grant.

The well-used and loved facility, off Poulton Drive by the River Trent and close to Lady Bay Bridge, will re-open under the management of the Flo Charitable Trust, with trustees including current skateboarders, parents, teachers and representatives of local businesses.

Along with expertise in education, funding and community action, the new charity has a deep understanding and passion for the distinctive and culturally rich skateboard and BMX communities in Nottingham and the wider East Midlands.  This represents an amazing opportunity for Flo, to transform and expand its activities to become more than ‘just’ a skatepark.  This will include expanding the exhibitions based in the Section 144 Gallery, a space within the skatepark that, since October 2017, has showcased the work of a wide range of young local artists linked to the skate community, curated by skaters themselves. This will be in addition to fund-raising to develop the park into a world-leading facility for skateboarding, which will become a new Olympic Sport in Tokyo 2020, and for BMX, an Olympic Sport since 2008.  Flo skatepark has a great track record in hosting UK national and international events, including the Vans Shop Riot UK Finals in 2016 and the UK Skateboarding Association (UKSA) British Skateboarding Championship in 2013.

Flo has been granted use of the site by Blueprint, the multi-award-winning developer with a strong commitment to sustainable investments with social and environmental benefits.  The area will eventually be redeveloped as part of the ‘Trent Basin’ regeneration project, however in the interim Blueprint could not have been more generous in how they have helped facilitate Flo Charitable Trust moving into the park. Of course, the Trust will be planning for the eventual move to a new site and active steps will be taken from day one to make a new park a reality for Nottingham.

Vans Shoes, a strong supporter of skateboarding and its related culture for more than 50 years, have generously contributed start-up capital. Vans are part of the brand portfolio of VF Corporation, whose Northern European Headquarters are based in Nottingham. Everybody at Flo cannot thank Vans and VF Corporation enough, for their help in reopening the park.

With the potential for bringing in charitable and public grant funding alongside revenue from entry fees, over the coming months the Flo Charitable Trust will explore a huge range of potential opportunities, including: providing artist co-working and maker-spaces and incubation space for early-stage skate and BMX-related business and social enterprises; school holiday clubs; and skills swapping clubs for skaters and BMXers with trade and craft skills (engaging the user community to maintain and improve the ramps and obstacles).

Together such programmes can help address Nottingham’s social challenges including youth unemployment and lower educational attainment, diverting young people from crime and anti-social behaviour, encouraging active girlhoods and female participation in sport throughout active lives, and reducing the current epidemic of male loneliness and social isolation.

Flo will work closely with Skate Nottingham CIC, the award-winning skater-run social enterprise who recently led the ‘skate takeover’ of the September edition of Leftlion Magazine (Nottingham’s free monthly culture magazine) and funded a team of local, young skateboarders to travel to and take part in the Skate Malmö Street 2018 event in Southern Sweden.  The Flo Charitable Trust will thus be able to learn from international best practice to deliver educational, social and cultural programmes within the skatepark alongside ensuring the skatepark remains an inclusive and welcoming space for all ages and abilities.

Flo will proudly remain very much a skatepark that provides a space for teenagers and young adults to pursue their interests, whatever their background and ability; as well as further nurturing Nottingham’s elite BMXers and skaters, including regular user of Flo and local skateboarder Alex Hallford, who is one of the new charity’s trustees.  This summer, Alex won the international Bowlmasters 2018 competition in Brixlegg, Austria and placed 7th in the Vans Park Series Continental Championships in Malmö, achievements that place him as not only one of the very best park skaters in the world but also make him one of the UK skaters most likely to go forward to the Olympics in Tokyo in two years’ time.

Quotes:

“I have spent the last 5 years taking my son, and his friends to Flo Skatepark. During that time I have seen him grow from a shy, uncertain child into a confident, resilient young man. Skateboarding has taught him to push himself and get back up again, whenever he falls. But more importantly, he is now an active member of a wider community at the park, that has never ceased to amaze me with its inclusivity and support. I find the whole scene inspirational. The charity was set-up to ensure the continuity of an indoor skatepark provision for Nottingham and really start to build on that community around the park, to give the opportunity for more people, young and old, to give skating or riding a go.”

Mark Deans, Chair of the Flo Charitable Trust

 

“This new start for Flo will help drive our wider ambitions to put Nottingham on the map in international skateboarding, which absolutely depends on a user-led, well-managed, inclusive and well-equipped indoor skatepark.  Working with the Flo Charitable Trust, Skate Nottingham are excited to start designing a wide range of programmes, building on our recent successful delivery of a National Lottery grant. This included the UK’s first skate photography workshop which engaged local young people and adults in creative industry-relevant and wider employability skills. In partnership with Flo, we can now start thinking on a far greater scale about the positive activities that connect to the world of skateboarding to young people’s education, volunteering and social action…  and just having a skate with our mates when it’s chucking it down with rain.”    

Simon Bernacki and Chris Lawton, Co-Founders of Skate Nottingham CIC

 

” Flo is a great hub for current and future generations of skaters to improve their skills and makes a lot of people very happy. It’s somewhere that’s more than just a collection of ramps and obstacles.  The dream is that it’ll become a centre for the future development of skateboarding and BMX in Nottingham and the UK, as well as a place that many different sorts of people will feel welcome and at home.”

Alex Hallford, Nottingham-based Professional Skateboarder and winner of the 2018 BowlMasters competition in Brixlegg, Austria


“Flo skatepark has been the centre of my beginner skate life.  I shared lessons with kids but also adults, women and men, people from different backgrounds and abilities.  The atmosphere is very welcoming and fun, whatever your ability.  I’m now a certified skateboarding teacher with Skate Nottingham and started helping to teach in the ladies’ sessions. It’s amazing to see how many women and girls are coming to these sessions to give it a go!  The ladies’ night became so important.  They gave an environment with no pressure, a friendly atmosphere where every woman and girl was welcome without judgement, a place where you can just have fun and learn to skate.  Thanks to Flo, Skate Nottingham and the ladies’ sessions, the number of women skateboarding in Nottingham has more than doubled in just a year”.
Armelle Pignon, female skateboarder and qualified skate coach and mentor

 

“Vans is proud to promote the development of skateboarding and it was a natural opportunity to help Flo to ensure a park to service the Nottingham community, we hope it has a long and successful future”

VF Corp – Nottingham

 

“We’re really pleased that Flo-skatepark is re-opening and that our building can be put to good use whilst it awaits re-development. Providing rent free accommodation is our way of supporting all the good things that can come out of a facility like this. Whilst the long-term future of the skatepark will inevitably lie somewhere else, we were keen to do what we could to get it back up and running as soon as possible.”

Blueprint Regeneration, a multi-award-winning developer that specialises in the development of sustainable homes and sustainable workspaces. 

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