TWO artists are to be commissioned to spend three months coming up with ‘creative, effective and unusual happenings’ in Nelson town centre as part of the Mary Portas scheme.

The Queen of Shops visited the town on Tuesday to see what progress had been made after Nelson was chosen as one of 12 Portas towns.

Nelson has received £100,000 to transform its high street and work has started on a number of projects to regenerate the fortunes of the town centre.

Ideas so far include turning Manchester Road into Nelson’s own version of the Rusholme curry mile, in Manchester, and creating a student cafe and common room to attract young people into town.

And around £16,000 is to be spent on the arts project, which could include staging musicals, plays and art workshops, to draw people into the amphitheatre area.

But Coun Eileen Ansar, who represents Clover Hill ward and is Nelson Town Council chairman said: “This looks like it is going to be another disaster like the zumba classes and morning boot camp.

“If they were proposing taking up one of the empty units, where college students could sell their own artwork, then I would understand it. But this is fairly ridiculous.”

Senior regeneration officer Judith Watmough, from Pendle Council, said: “We purposely haven't said what exactly will happen there as we want the artists to give us their creative ideas.”

Kirsty Rose, from Pendle Leisure Trust, said: “We’ll be choosing two artists to use the amphitheatre and empty shops.

“We’ll want them to work with local businesses and attract young people into town.”

The deadline for artists to submit bids is February 22.

Application forms are available from Pendle Council’s Regeneration Team by contacting Judith on 01282 661040 or on