DAD Overview Spring 2012

After the wettest April on record we realise that it is high time we updated you again on DAD’s activities since our last newsletter in November.

Studios have been in our minds with the invitation from the National Federation of Studio Providers to host a brunch at Turner contemporary to discuss the possibility of a new South East Region Network. Having enjoyed a wonderful year with our DAD studio in the Old sorting office, we now just have our own studios and a residency possibility for visiting artists. This is how DAD started and part of the fun is finding ways of working in the public realm without relying on a fixed venue.

A good example is Bunting Forever, launched at Open Weekend 2011. Julie Bishop has been leading Bunting Forever workshops in a variety of public spaces with one of the favourites being The Dover Discovery Centre. The workshops have fostered new friendships and provided a space for deepening friendships too. With many participants also making bunting at home, the project has been a great way for people to take part in the Olympics without taking part in sport and has enabled people who are less mobile to get involved.

The project has really caught the imagination and is a London 2012 project, with over 300 people of all ages making the thousands of individual pennants needed to reach and indeed beat the target of a mile of hand made woolly bunting – each pennant distinctive, some in Olympic colours, – that will be hung in the town to welcome the Olympic torch into Dover on July 18th.

The World Famous who are busy working on Dover’s ambitious Olympic celebrations on the Esplanade have commissioned an extension to Bunting Forever in the form of an Olympic Archway project led by artist Katherine Moloney, consisting of a garland of woolly pom poms above the entrance to the underpass leading to the seafront on the Torch Relay route. As well as a workshop for the general public we ran workshops for pupils from River primary school and Whitfield & Aspen School as part of the two 100 days to go celebrations. We will be running a series of outdoor workshops in June as we need a lot more pom poms.

Watermark: the film is now complete along with all project reporting and has its own website, designed by Edda Jones, at www.watermark-film.com with trailers, stills, reviews and endorsements. After a showing in December organised this time by the Buckland mill employees themselves we held a preview for the town on 6 March in the Dover Town Hall – the 400-seater hall was full to capacity at 11 am! On 9 May we held another preview at The Gulbenkian cinema in Canterbury, by invitation of The School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SPSSR), University of Kent through Prof. Tim Strangleman. Tim has been involved with Watermark from the beginning, giving an oral history workshop for all crew on the day before the story shop opened for business: namely as a pop up film studio for interviews with former paper mill workers. At the workshop he emphasised the importance of oral histories as “a real insight into a disappearing culture.”

Tim has since championed the film at the European Social Science History Conference, at the University of Glasgow in April 2012 where he presented his paper: Workplace, Community Change and Nostalgia, Erasure, Remembrance, Nostalgia, and Loss: Reflections on the Death of an English Paper Mill. Tim will be speaking again, in June, at the How Class Works – 2012 Conference at the State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook University, WCS Conference 2012 panel: Deindustrialisation and Film: Reflections on scholars’ collaborations with filmmakers with a contribution entitled Class making its mark: Reflections on collaborating with filmmakers on ‘Watermark’.

We are submitting Watermark to festivals and following leads to take the film out into the world. We have received some wonderful responses and are delighted by Watermark’s shortlisting for the Canterbury Cultural Award for Excellence. More news on the outcome in June!

We continue to work as custodians of the muf art/architecture Dover Cultural Framework as part of our activities in Dover, which includes networking artists and creative practitioners based in Dover or wanting to come and work in Dover with organisations and individuals who may enable them to realise their practice.

Liza Fior of muf art/architecture gave an inspiring presentation at the Town Council Chamber, sharing with us some of the relatively inexpensive projects muf has introduced in other Town Centres that challenge the idea that thoughtful design is unaffordable. Many of these ideas emerged out of her experiences in Dover and her wish was to share them with the place that had inspired them.

As joint custodians with Dover Museum of the Dover Cultural Framework we co-hosted Fizz Buzz Jazz, “Kent’s most purposeful party” invented by Tim Le Lean of Year One Consulting the Fizz donated by Chapel Down and the Foundry Brew pub, which washed down the delicous snacks made by Il Rustico. The museum was a fabulous venue for the Buzz, offering visitors an opportunity to see for themselves, amongst other treasures, Dover’s unique Bronze Age Boat. Richard Bundy on keyboards, Alexis Contouris on Bass and Andy Robertson on Drums provided the Jazz and were joined by singer Diane Mae Bundy and Flautist Paul Cheneour. And Chris Burke took some lovely photos.

Last November we started working on a new bid to Arts Council England. This has culminated in a Grant for the Arts from ACE and funding from Kent Arts and Culture totalling just under £95k. War & Peace is a 20-month project: a visual, musical and poetic reflection on place, focusing on Dover’s history and geography through a range of activities involving visual arts, music and text. DAD will be working with the Dover Museum, the Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust and Deal Festival of Music and the Arts as well as local history societies. Artists taking part are Matthias Koch, Philippe Bazin, Peter Sheppard-Skaevard, Nigel Clarke, Marlene Skaevard, Matthew Sharp, Dominic de Vere, Korinna McRobert, Joanna Jones and Clare Smith.

We are very aware that while we are celebrating our successful funding bids, others are facing an existential crisis. Since DAD started in 2006 a real arts ecology has built up in East Kent which is a testament to the difference that support for the arts can make, so we will continue to act as advocates for the collective achievements of the whole sector.

We are grateful to all our funders and supporters.