Autumn Newsletter 2018

As the name implies Dover Arts Development has Dover at its heart.

For the last 12 years DAD has been inviting artists and organisations, as well as residents and businesses, to be part of a series of contemporary art ‘placemaking’ projects.

Urban design, planning, and architecture are tools for creating a physical environment, but Placemaking is the process that creates the crucial, ephemeral quality—the sense of place—that ultimately animates any physical space and transforms design into destination.* 

Why, you might ask, does Dover need an arts organisation to develop ‘placemaking’ projects when Dover is known as a place all over the world.

The answer is that although Dover continues to mark entrances and exits that are central to global history, 12 years ago the previously thriving industrial town and its people were experiencing the impact on the local economy and their personal lives of de-industrialisation. This was followed more recently by the loss of a garrison after hundreds of years as a garrison town, resulting in the population of Dover actually declining.

Young people had until this century been confident they would find work in one of the local industries, such as Buckland paper Mill, on the ferries or in the army.

 And If they did what they were told they would have a job for life.

Our projects have encouraged self initiative leading to increased self confidence with creative thinking and placemaking as a way of strengthening social networks, and finding innovative solutions to the challenges faced by the community of bringing new life to public spaces/the town.

It is DAD’s ethos to encourage a lateral approach to co-production and partnership with the artists, contributors and organisations we work with within the complexities of ‘placemaking’.

Placemaking is an art form. It is a collaborative, communal process whereby people create something new, beautiful, vibrant, and useful.*

In partnership with Dover Town Council, the Creta project introduced a twilight event opportunity at the Pebbles Kiosk on the Dover sea front which we hope will get taken up by other artists projects. This year the Big Draw was a partnership event with Dover Town Council, the Dover Big Local Art31 group and DAD: instead of asking people to come to it, it went where people were, which included Biggin Hall – home to the student makers, My Gallery – home to the Dover SmArt Group and The Table at Charlton Green beside Morrisons.

As curators** of Joined up, our WW1 Dover Museums & Arts Group project with 10 museums and heritage sites across Dover District, DAD worked to broker an understanding of the different perspectives when issues arose due to the different approaches, priorities and anxieties of artists and museums.  With Art in the Park – Kearsney Interpreted, we are supporting Dover District Council with their ambitious Arts Council England funded project and delivering it together. This time, we are helping to throw light on any misunderstandings that arise between the local authority and artists and artists and local authority. Keeping the shared goal in sight is important and realising that each party is bringing the skill set necessary to achieve that. We are working with a wonderful project team and the 10 artists undertaking residencies in Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens, two of Dover’s most loved parks. To see young Dover-based artists receiving their first commissions, working within the communities they grew up in, fulfilling the requirements of working with a public body and producing really exciting work is a delight. Equally the events so far from those further along in their careers have been a delight and have been really well attended by park users and others visiting the parks for the first time. There is more to come in the New Year including the Park Bench moving image piece which includes work from 60 artists and poets who live or work in Dover – a full list of artists and their projects can be found here.

CHALKUP21 is a cultural tourism project which brings together physical placemaking through architecture and public art, walking and artists’ responses to create a new trail along the Strait of Dover and bind together buildings and people. The project brings visitors to Dover and celebrates the now – so often we wait to celebrate a place or a building until it has gone through a time-based “vetting process”. CHALKUP21 asks why we should wait to appreciate these spaces/places. The dedicated website CHALKUP21.com provides everything you need to know to plan a visit: an interactive trail map, information on the nine 21stCentury Art and Architecture Structures, alongside inspirational artist responses and interviews. We now need the help of our partners, artists and friends to keep spreading the word to make sure that the CHALKUP21 trail continues to attract artists and walkers following the end of our launch programme in December 2018. There will be information on the homepage of the website to help with this soon.

The project has demonstrated the interconnectedness of the arts and economic growth and how a contemporary art project can contribute to creative placemaking, deepening people’s connection to a place through experiences which feed imagination and wellbeing. (Chris Yates CHALKUP21 evaluator.)

*Quoted from  THE  7 PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS OF THE ART OF PLACEMAKING

**  Etymology from medieval Latin curatus, from Latin cura ‘care’