The Arts: rejuvenating the county

I’m reminded anew of this article in the Guardian some months ago about the impact culture and the arts are having in East Kent.

Writing last year, the Director of the Turner Contemporary Gallery, Victoria Pomeroy, states that

the arts are leading the way in raising the profile of the area as a desirable destination. From Whitstable to Folkestone, Canterbury to Dover, arts and culture are making a significant contribution to the tourism offer.

east_kentWith the tourist industry bringing in ‘£3.2bn’ to the area annually, the partnership between the arts, heritage and the tourist industry is rejuvenating the county’s economic development, bringing visitors to historic and cultural attractions throughout the region.

Last year’s bid for East Kent as ‘City of Culture,’ drawn up by collaboration across venues and organisations across East Kent. may not have been successful, it’s true, but it does reflect a changing mentality across the county, triangulated in investment in iconic venues such as the recently-refurbished Marlowe Theatre and Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, the Turner Contemporary in Margate, and the University’s own award-winning Colyer-Fergusson Building. Since 2011, Revelation St Mary‘s has been developing an exciting series of events at the heart of Ashford town, and there are festivals such as the Canterbury Festival,  Deal Festival, Lounge on the Farm, and Sounds New attracting major performers to the area; this year, in May, the new Whitstable Literary Festival will be launched.

There’s a sense that professionals across these industries locally are starting to forge working relationships, building on the sense nascent in the City of Culture bid that there is a vibrant county-wide cultural presence that can make a significant contribution towards supporting regional economic growth. We’ve certainly noticed an increased cultural vibrancy both here and next door in the Gulbenkian Theatre, with its developing partner-groups and youth theatre projects, and the number of local, regional and national performers coming into the music building; Kent really does have a lively artistic scene, one that engages the community across the age-range and brings them a high standard of artistic experience The recent high-speed rail link means Canterbury, Ashford and Margate are within easy reach of London, and are now more readily accessible. Notwithstanding the impact the Colyer-Fergusson building is having on the student experience and music-making provision on the campus, it’s exciting to see it forming a part of the cultural landscape developing across Kent.

Read the article online here.

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