Fair Weather for Dover Tourism Pilot

Our objective with the Dover Pilot was to place culture in tourism settings and build lasting cultural tourism partnerships.

DAD

Cultural Tourism was a new term for Dover Arts Development but as the project progressed we began to understand that much of our work over the last 10 years has in fact been supporting cultural tourism.

We spent nearly a third of our Culture Kent budget on freelancer Jessica Wood from ‘Arts Inform’ for help with our marketing. On her suggestion we made a DAD promo film, https://vimeo.com/141990526 , found the name Chalk Up for the one-year pilot and developed a marketing campaign which was an important and valuable addition to Chalk Up.

One of our aims was to build a network of partners by bringing in new partners and deepening existing relationships. Our first Chalk Up meeting on September 15th 2015 brought together a group of 10 potential partners that formed the basis of a cultural tourism network. Through the project we were able to build the network through the various Chalk Up events. 29 partners, comprising national organisations as well as the local community, added additional financial support, by way of our sponsor and supporter packages which were part of our marketing campaign, for INSPIRATION=DOVER the final Chalk Up event on May 20th in Dover’s historic Maison Dieu better known locally as the Dover Town Hall.

The pilot enabled us to link a number of existing initiatives together under the cultural tourism theme and ensure artistic excellence was at the heart of Chalk Up. These initiatives formed a series of events bringing culture into tourist and heritage venues, illuminating, enhancing and engaging visitors in a host of new and original ways resulting in visitors experiencing their heritage from new perspectives.

Click the links below to read about these Chalk Up events:

The Chalk Up film production Weathertime: Premiered April 27th 2016 in the Silver Screen Cinema, Dover. DAD offered a workshop in Spontaneous Creativity as part of a day to bring invited cultural practitioners together from both sides of the Channel in April 2015. It was an opportunity for creative practitioners to come together and explore cross-European partnerships. The Weathertime film project grew out of this meeting, the majority of the participants in the workshop participating in the film. The 30-minute film, with works from 30 selected artists from England, France and Belgium, brings together a visual diary of the weather across the ‘maritory’ of the Straits of Dover during September 2015 .

We are delighted that Weathertime is now part of the DFDS Ferries onboard screenings for passengers between Dover and Dunkirk, available to view in the premium lounge onboard and in other public areas of the ship, including the café lounges.

We carry an average of around 8,500 passengers on the Dunkirk route every day which totals up to almost a million passengers over the course of the summer months. Many of them will see the film during the journey as they move around the ship” (DFDS)

  • INSPIRATION=DOVER The Concert and Exhibition on May 20th 2016 was the final event of the Chalk Up Dover Pilot. It was also our tenth anniversary and the culmination of a 2 year ACE funded project bringing 16 contemporary artists to work with 10 museums and heritage sites across Dover District and making work inspired by their WW1 collections.

The Culture Kent pilot has enabled us to realise that when one understands museums and heritage sites as visitor attractions then with artists making contemporary works, which will become part of the museums accessioned collections, starting the process of contemporary collecting, then the project is a cultural tourism project. It is a matter of focus, with the pilot giving us that cultural tourism focus. The exhibition and concert were a wonderful celebratory end to the pilot.

The Pilot is now completed but we have an exciting Legacy project, informed by our experience. DAD is a member of the Dover Coastal Communities Team and has submitted a proposal for “Chalk Up Destination Dover” a cultural tourism place making project, continuing the work started with this pilot.

We aim to create a coastal cultural trail for walkers and tourists stretching from Capel Le Ferne to St Margaret’s Bay drawing attention to the outstanding 21st century architecture and artworks on the trail and supporting the sustainability of tourism businesses along Dover’s Coast. Many of the buildings created in response to this area of natural beauty and coastal weather conditions have received important industry awards. Funding dependent, the trail will provide a new exciting cultural tourism offer to Kent.

The funding through Culture Kent helped us with a shift in focus to cultural tourism and to understand audience as visitors. It has helped raise our profile with stakeholders and shown our network partners how culture can also be a driver for many of the town’s ambitions to create a sustainable economy and make Dover an attractive destination not just a place to pass through.

We are very grateful to Culture Kent for the opportunities and learning the pilot provided.

DFDS

DAD

 

 

SPOTLIGHT ON AN ARTS & CULTURAL ORGANISATION IN KENT: TURNER CONTEMPORARY

NGUT-1024-0005In this blog post, we are going to learn more about Turner Contemporary, located in Margate, Kent.  Lead Pathfinder partner of Culture Kent, Turner Contemporary has had a positive impact in arts & culture in Kent.

 1.) Name of organisation: Turner Contemporary

2.) Type of organisation: Art gallery and charity

3.) Year founded: 2001

4.) Tell us a little bit about your organisation and what it offers tourists:

The organisation was founded in 2001 to contextualise, celebrate, and build on the artist JMW Turner’s association with Margate, Kent. In 2011, Turner Contemporary gallery, designed by Sir David Chipperfield, opened, and has fast become a visitor attraction of national and international importance.

Situated on Margate seafront, on the same site where Turner stayed when visiting the town, Turner Contemporary presents a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions, events and learning opportunities which make intriguing links between historic and contemporary art. The gallery offers a space for everyone to discover different ways of seeing, thinking and learning.

Turner Contemporary, driven by its vision of Art Inspiring Change, has led the regeneration of the historic seaside town of Margate. It has inspired people to transform their lives, and to see the world differently through the arts.In the five years since opening, Turner Contemporary has achieved two million visits. This astounding figure is doubtless a result of gallery’s ever-growing reputation, world class exhibitions and outstanding audience engagement and learning programmes.

AIC Northdown (web)-40

5.) What are some concerns your organisation has related to tourism?:

As a cultural organisation and tourist attraction, we’re hugely interested in the potential to bridge gaps between us and other organisations, attractions and businesses to create a more joined up approach to attracting tourism. People will rarely make long journeys to visit one place solely, therefore it is imperative that we communicate openly with others. In Kent, we have a great opportunity to direct people from major transport hubs, such as Dover and Ashford out into the furthest reaches of the county. If we fail to communicate with each other and tourists, there is a real danger that we will miss these vital opportunities to boost our economy.

One other concern is that traditional tourism is quite seasonally dependent and we would like to encourage people to come all year round. The beauty of cultural tourism is that it is so accessible whatever the weather.

6.) How will the efforts of Culture Kent address your concerns?

Culture Kent enables heightened knowledge sharing across the two sectors of culture and tourism to fill evident gaps, enhance audience development, and vitally reposition the brand of Kent as the creative county outside of London. This is being achieved through in-depth research into cultural tourists, the development of pilots and campaigns to convert tourists to cultural tourists, facilitating hub and spoke relationship building and partnership working.

We’re excited to be building on our existing partnerships, but also building important, long-lasting new ones, with large, medium and small organisations, and taking our role as leader further.

Thank you to Turner Contemporary for telling us about their organisation and their aims for tourism growth!

 

SPOTLIGHT ON CULTURE KENT ORGANISATION: CHALK UP, DOVER ARTS DEVELOPMENT (DAD)

We fire 10 questions to Dover Arts Development, one of the Culture Kent pilot organisations, about their project Chalk Up and cultural tourism activity..

1.) Name of organisation: Chalk Up

2.) Type of organisation: Pilot for Culture Kent led by Dover Arts Development

3.) Year founded: 2015

4.) Tell us a little bit about your organisation and what it offers tourists:
Chalk Up was set up to bring culture and tourism together in Dover District to enhance the cultural tourism industry in the region. The project is led by Dover Arts Development, an artist-led organisation. It is the third pilot organised by Culture Kent (Summer of Colour in Margate and the Folkestone Triennial were the first two). Chalk Up brings cultural events into tourist/heritage venues that illuminate, animate and enhance the tourist experience. We do not have a venue or a festival. Instead we are running a programme of events where artists engage visitors in a host of new and original ways.

6.) Tell us about your projects:
We have a whole range of projects across the district where artists and musicians are working at heritage and tourism sites. For DMAG Joined Up, artists have been working in residence at the Dover museums to offer contemporary interpretations of their WW1 collections. The final exhibition is due to be shown in the new Betteshanger Heritage building next year. The White Cliffs are Dover’s most famous natural landmark and we are organising a commission for an artist’s work to transform the entrance to the path to entice tourists to walk or bicycle up to the iconic cliffs from Dover town and port. Weathertime is our cross-channel project, bringing together thirty selected artists from England, France and Belgium to create a visual diary of the weather across the ‘maritory’ of the Straits of Dover. The artwork produced will be brought into a film for screening at a tourism site. Earlier this year, we organised a Land & Sea Exhibition of rarely seen paintings on loan from the Port of Dover in the Royal Cinqe Ports Yacht Club. The newly opened Fan Bay Shelter Tunnels are a remarkable and emotive place and we worked with the National Trust to offer a drawing workshop and an artist-led experiential walk at Full Moon. In spring 2016 we are organising a concert to be held in The Maison Dieu (Dover’s Town Hall). The theme of the specially commissioned music is Dover itself: its unique environment and history.

Throughout the year we have been hosting culture meets tourism events where artists and arts organisations meet representatives from tourism businesses to chalk up ideas of how the two industries can work together cultural projects that help drive the economy of Dover District.

 

7.) What will be the impact of your organisation on tourism in the district?
Our aims are to increase the numbers of cultural tourists and the lengths of their stays; we want more overnight visitors and want to get the word out that Dover District has an enormous tourist offering both in culture, heritage and as a place of outstanding natural beauty.

8.) What challenges does your organisation face in relation to tourism?
Our concern is how to make an impact on tourism in just one year. The challenge that we face is, with the many different organisations in the district, how to ensure that tourism as a whole (including the existing organisations and businesses) benefits from our actions and initiatives.

Matthias-Koch-31-Dover-Beach-2012-10-15-frischer-1024x667

Matthias Koch, Dover beach, 2012

9.) How will the efforts of Culture Kent address your concerns?
Culture Kent is a very impressive organisation. We find their staff, expertise, ambition and energy highly motivating. As well as devising an innovative programme, Culture Kent is gathering data of immense importance to the cultural tourism sector. Until we know who our audiences and potential visitors are then we cannot programme and market effectively.

10) How do we find out more about you and get involved?
We welcome partners in the tourism and heritage sector who would like to find ways for culture to enhance their offering. Please find details at www.chalkup.dadonline.eu or contact us at chalkup@artsinform.co.uk

Thank you to Chalk Up for telling us about your organisation and your aims for tourism growth!

 

DAD Trailer (Extended Version) from Dover Arts Development on Vimeo.

Singing from the Same Song Sheet

image Big Sing

As if I needed any more persuading that the arts and tourism sectors need to work more closely together, I read some interesting statistics the other day from the Visit Britain website.

Did you know that British Tourism was forecast to be worth £127 Billion in 2013 (9% of the UK’s GDP) growing to £257 billion by 2025? And that in the 2014 Anholt GfK Nations Brand Index, the UK retained the 3rd place top nation brand (out of 50 nations) and that looking at the dimensions relevant for tourism, the UK ranked 3rd out of 50 nations in terms of a ‘Tourism’ brand and 5th for Culture.

So tourism is a fantastically lucrative market to join and our “culture brand” is already a well recognised global brand. Joining tourism and the arts together in more productive and positive ways makes sense financially. Didn’t someone once say “it’s the economy stupid!”?

The stats I have being reading also suggest that the South East has a particular market share that might be worth looking at more closely. The South East apparently attracts more holiday visits that include children than any other area in the UK. An interesting stat. Why would the South East be particularly attractive to children? It definitely needs a bit more in-depth examination as to the whys and wherefores. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ferry/coach trips for schools has something to do with it as well as the huge number of language schools in the area that attract school children from across Europe. This market share is something Culture Kent and Turner Contemporary wants to understand and explore further. We want to work in partnership with our language schools. We’ll let you know how we get on and what we find out in more detail later.

Image Folkestone Triennial

Folkestone Triennial

Whilst the South East might be good at attracting children, what is slightly more alarming is the fact that, although museums are notably often part of a visit to the South East, other cultural activities are faring much less well. Around 15% of visits include going to an art gallery as opposed to a national average of 26%. This comes despite the significant investment in the cultural infrastructure in the South East (Jerwood in Hastings, Folkestone Triennial, Turner Contemporary in Margate, to name but a few). The South East also attracts relatively few visits which include going to theatres, live music or festivals. Again we don’t know the details of why this is the case but again some of the research that we will carry out of over the course of the next two years will hopefully build a better picture of our understanding of South East tourists, their motivators and their spend.

What the research does indicate however is that cultural organisations have an opportunity here to grow our market place and to build our attendances. Kent, in particular, has a great opportunity as it attracts the most overseas visitors in the South East of England, not including London. By working with our tourism partners we can open our doors to the world, increase footfall to our cultural venues, increase spending to the local economy and help ensure that the UK not only remain one of the top global cultural brands but perhaps becomes THE top brand.

The point of Culture Kent is to try to do some experiments, pilot some initiatives which target those tourist markets, and find more about the tourist markets, their motivators and their behaviours during their time in our wonderful county. Joining the culture and tourism sectors makes sense nationally and locally. By doing things on a micro or smaller scale we can perhaps try things out that we wouldn’t otherwise have a chance of doing nationally. And we can monitor results more easily.

None of this should be done in “glorious isolation”. Audiences (whether they are specific tourist audiences or locally based audiences) are key. And so Culture Kent is also joining forces with a new initiative, “We Love Our Audiences”, and we will explore more ways of joining together our understanding of audiences – particularly looking at cross-fertilisation of audiences and potential audiences (for example – do visitors to Port Lympne Zoo go to the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury? How can we help entice them to if they don’t?). We’re having an exploratory session and bringing together some brilliant examples of collaborative work to provide inspiration for discussion. The plan is to challenge ourselves to agree on what we want to do next and how we can make that happen. This session is happening on 5th February at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. We will update you on our discussion via this blog.

LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR

“Forming unusual partnerships also requires greater investments of time … often by senior leadership, and the development of new tools, such as innovative memorandums of understanding. When done well, however, these partnerships offer businesses unprecedented opportunities to build and access new and developing markets, become more efficient and create the appropriate market conditions to thrive.”

Thus wrote Abeed Mahmud in an article in The Guardian “Beyond charity: three innovative types of business partnerships for non-profits”.

He was right. But not just about partnerships between businesses and NGOs. His views on the challenges of, but most importantly the opportunities for, partnership working are as valid for the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as they are for small-scale arts organisations and Destination Management Organisations aiming to work together.

Culture Kent is a partnership initiative with aims that are simple – but all-too-often neglected. To increase cultural tourism in Kent and to explore and exploit the potential of shared cultural event data. In order to achieve these aims, Cultural Organisations need to join together with their cousins in the tourist industry in a true partnership..

But partnership isn’t easy. It requires hard work, dedication and – sometimes – leaving egos at the door.

I’ve spent much of my working life bringing organisations and people together – whether a joint artistic collaboration between visual artists, dancers and film makers on one project, through co-ordinating cultural NGOs at a regional level, to joining arts organisations together to think and learn at the most strategic levels.

And on this project – Culture Kent – the rules are the same as ever:

1. Agree ambitions.
It sounds simple but so often partnerships can break down because not everyone knows or agrees what they are trying to achieve. It is so easy to make massive assumptions. So articulate your ambitions, both by speaking about and then writing about them (via a Terms of Reference document or a partnership agreement). Voice concerns at the beginning. Question what you don’t understand. Rehearse scenarios (how will you handle disagreements, how will you share your knowledge and so on.)

2. Agree the limitations of your partnership.
These can change of course, but agree at the outset which areas of work you are going to cover in your partnership. With dedication, a little luck and a fair wind a successful partnership will evolve and grow bigger as time goes on, but it’s best to start small and build confidence on all sides.

3. Clarity of roles.
This sounds so simple but in practice if you don’t know who is doing what and when, how do you know if you’re achieving what you set out to do? And how do you know who to go to when you have a query? Resentments and misunderstandings can so easily happen if you think the other person is meant to be doing it, not you.

4. Individual benefits.
Not all partners will gain the same benefits from the partnerships but every partner needs to gain some business benefit at some point during the course of the partnership. Each partner needs to be clear about what they hope to gain and ensure that they share the benefit (and their enthusiasm) back to their own organisation. Which brings me on to:

5. Whole organisation sign-up.
Without the whole of your organisation signing up to the aims of the partnership, it can become easy to give into the pressure of the everyday job and not set aside dedicated time to help deliver the ambitions of the partnership. Often partnerships are “add-ons” and have to be fitted in amongst a multitude of seemingly more urgent priorities. If your organisation is committed to the partnership, you will allocate space and time to it.

6. Agree actions and timelines.
Not every action should be agreed by the whole partnership (that way madness lies – and often the stifling of imagination and ambition too) but major milestones and the timescale by which things should be done need to be agreed by everyone. That way there is clarity and hopefully no partner can claim not to have been consulted or that another organisation is holding things up.

7. REAL discussion.
Ask people to be honest and as open as possible at meetings. Sometimes Chatham House rules should apply. It is important to enable people to openly share any concerns they have at developments of particular elements of the project. It is also important to be honest and frank about any wider national issues that are developing in the background.

8. Reflect – and Remember the Benefits.
In the plethora of meetings, emails and phone calls it can be easy to forget why you ever started a partnership in the first place. Take time to reflect and remember the ambitions of the project and have a regular check and balance moment to see whether you’re all still going in the same direction to the same end. Of course things change (often for the better), so it’s good to see whether your original ambition should be reiterated or adapted to the changing scenarios.

None of this is rocket science. And much depends on people willingly setting up partnerships for genuine reasons rather than because they have been forced by external circumstances to do so.

In many ways the sharing of data and cultural tourism initiatives seems like one of the simplest partnerships; but it is trialling new ideas and new ways of working and whenever you do that, there can be big challenges and the journey can be rough. Often great big potholes can appear in the road on the way. Luckily so far, no major potholes have appeared for us, but we are all aware that the road is long and the budget for road maintenance is small. It certainly won’t be a speedy journey but together we believe that the destination at the end of the road is a worthwhile one.