Canterbury Culture

Canterbury Culture

For centuries Canterbury has been a cultural icon. Tourists flock to the city to experience this culture, to connect with the buildings and streets that offer a glimpse back to England’s past.

Google ‘Canterbury’ and you will get a page of images showing the Cathedral, boat trips on the Stour and the castle.

Our project, ‘Canterbury Culture’, set out to take this brilliant heritage backdrop and thread through it the masses of contemporary culture that we have in the city.



Canterbury has great theatres showing a huge range of work, it boasts an International Arts Festival every October and a wealth of museums headed by the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge alongside galleries such as the Sidney Cooper Gallery presenting creativity from the past and from the present. There is a wealth of new music being presented by City Sound Project and Beautiful Town Music amongst others, and there are spoken word nights springing up across the city complementing Wise Words Festival which is held each Spring in the stunning Blackfriars Garden.

I have missed out loads, including the wealth of creativity generated at our three Universities, and through the great work of the Canterbury Arts Council, the Canterbury players and on and on….

Canterbury Culture exists to celebrate all of this creativity, to shout about them and to work with heritage & tourism partners to present a rounded view of Canterbury to visitors.

We are doing this in two main ways:

We created which is an event listing and blog. The site highlights events that are ‘Unique to Canterbury or a surprise to see in Canterbury’. This could be Glyndebourne touring to The Marlowe Theatre, or local band Syd Arthur playing Gulbenkian.

The blog has a remit to feature lifestyle that includes culture and the arts – not just bang on about arts events. So we will do a feature on great coffee shops in town, alongside an item about open mic gigs.

The website is supported by Facebook and Twitter social platforms.

Culture Tellers
Working with Canterbury based creative agency Dodgems & Floss, we have developed the Culture Tellers. Based upon the origami-tastic fortune tellers we used to do at school, the Tellers invite users to choose numbers and colours, taking them to a character and a secret Canterbury location

The Tellers have been placed in key tourism spots including The Canterbury Tales, The Marlowe Theatre and The Beany House of Art and Knowledge.


Culture Kent
This project would not have happened without Culture Kent. The brief to reach Canterbury tourists was written by Sarah Dance at Culture Kent, and all we as a group decided to do was pitch to take on and deliver the pilot project.

Through Culture Kent we accessed funding, but also expertise of the Audience Agency for seminars on research and digital audiences, plus evaluation from Canterbury Christ Church University. There is also a great feeling of being given licence to experiment – this is a pilot, a test and we are all trying out new things. The ethos that everything we learn is to be shared with the wider Culture Kent partnership.

It has been massively beneficial working together as partners. We still have to evaluate the real outcomes of the project in terms of increased audiences and awareness of arts events, but all those involved feel we have created something that can improve and develop over time.

So we are now searching for funding from April 2017, so the pilot project can become just what we do….

Dave Yard


Introduction to PR

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On 8 July 2016, Sinead Hanna of Visit Kent delivered a comprehensive over view of the fundamentals of PR; including dealing with the media, identifying appropriate PR tactics, developing a strategic PR campaign from scratch, writing press releases and evaluating success.

Sinead gave helpful ‘insider’ tips on how to deal with the tourism/travel press, in particular she spoke about potentially off putting buzz words including ‘unique’ and ‘ground breaking’.  Sinead also talked about how the press prefer to be communicated with and how to construct an eye catching press release (her top tip – when writing your press release leave creating the title to the end!)

With more than 12 years experience in PR, communications, marketing, and journalism with public and private sector partners. Sinead gave us a better understanding of the relationship between PR and marketing, including; how to create a PR plan – either for a project or for a longer campaign, understanding how traditional and social media work, developing a range of impactful PR tactics, the ability to identify opportunities to place stories in the media, an understanding of how to deal with incoming media enquiries as well as how to manage ongoing issues and how to write those important press releases.

This event provided an excellent networking opportunities for multiple art organisations, and was tailor made towards the difficulties faced by those working in the art world (how to sell impenetrable academic text?)

Training events such as these, are a great way in which arts organisations can look for new methods of cross promotion.

Please follow the link below to view the PowerPoint slides:


Culture Kent Google Analytics Training Course

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On 28 July 2016 Culture Kent and the ‘Canterbury Pilot’ delivered a highly informative training course to provide an overview of how Google Analytics and Hitwise tools can help improve traffic to websites; within which Katie Moffatt from the Audience Agency* presented a report examining website traffic data to identify core visitors to key websites within the Canterbury area.

In her report Katie established how tourists use these sites to plan their visit to Canterbury including looking at: demographic, age, gender, types of individuals. It was noted that the majority of visitors to the site were 68% female, aged 55+. In addition visitors were in a close geographical radius with the majority located in South East London; visitors from outside of this radius were typically younger (24-34 age range).

This analysis highlights how London represents a major opportunity in terms of tourism to cultural sites – 18% of visits were from the London area.

Katie also spoke about how people arrive at the site including examination of the searches they making and how their searches lead them to the site. The majority of traffic to the site was generated through links from other websites. This shows how important placing links to partnering cultural sites is to generate additional interest in the region.

Katie explained that the Google search engine was used the most, demonstrating that this is a powerful tool to directing traffic to the site.

Data was extracted during 12 week period in March which arguably means that it is limited by not having comparable data. However what it does demonstrate is how vital it is to encourage reasons to travel including promoting the cultural delights Kent and London have to offer. Through research and analysis of website traffic it is easier to identify new opportunities for investing in tourism products that create great experiences, and clearly shows how working in partnership is a key driver to enhance cultural tourism.


Cultural Tourism – Why Bother? Symposium

The Culture Kent symposium took place on 16 December 2015 at Turner Contemporary.   Over 80 people attended this hugely successful event from a diverse range of cultural and tourism organisations. High profile and provocative speakers gave the audience plenty to think about from the role of large organisations to small, the importance of collaboration and people within a cultural tourism offer and shared cultural tourism exemplars across the UK.

Speakers included Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, James Berresford, Jane Marriott (Deputy Director, Hepworth Gallery) and David Statham, Managing Director of Southeastern.

As the speakers pointed out, coastal resorts across the UK  have experienced years of under investment leading to high levels of deprivation.  But in Kent ,and particularly in Margate and other parts of East Kent, culture-led regeneration  has had significant impact on both the local ecology and the tourism market.    In Margate, Turner Contemporary’s programmes encourage individuals to see the world differently and help people to realise their potential.

Jude Kelly highlighted how Cultural Tourism is about people making a difference and establishing the identity of a place;  the CEO of Visit England highlighted that culture is a huge driver of visitation and an important part of the visit. The conference outlined how tourism is a product of changing economic, technical and social factors and it is vital to encourage reasons to travel including promoting the cultural delights Kent has to offer. The importance of research and intelligence were noted as being really key to making the case for investing in tourism products that create great experiences. And the role of partnership working  as key driver to enhance cultural tourism was also noted.  The full speeches can be found via the links below:


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.


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, , 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.