Culture Kent research discovers cultural tourists are more likely to stay longer in Kent

As part of the Culture Kent project, extensive research was carried out to discover more about cultural tourists visiting Kent. From the research findings, we have discovered that cultural tourists have a higher propensity to stay longer when visiting the county than other leisure tourists.

Culture Kent sought to reposition Kent as one of the UK’s creative counties, through a series of pilot events and artworks in key destinations: Margate, Folkestone, Canterbury, Whitstable, Medway and Dover. Turner Contemporary worked with Kent’s tourism body Visit Kent to bring cultural organisations and tourism businesses together to create new ways of attracting and engaging tourists.

Image Folkstone Outer Harbour Beach

photo: Thierry Bal & Folkestone Triennial 2014

A key element of the project involved the commissioning of an in-depth research programme, part of which examined the perceptions, motivations, experiences and demographics of ‘cultural tourists’ to Kent.

Cultural tourists are those visitors who are primarily motivated to visit a destination because of its cultural offer, and visitors who participate in the cultural activity of a place, even if it is not the prime reason for visiting.

Canterbury Christ Church University (Tourism and Events Research Hub) and Visit Kent were commissioned to undertake the research for a two-year period from 2015 – 2017, the first time such research has been carried out in the county.

The consumer research surveyed the behaviour and perceptions of three different groups of domestic tourists: existing Kent cultural tourists, potential cultural tourists and existing Kent leisure tourists.

The research has found that:

● A higher proportion of existing Kent cultural tourists went on short breaks (51%) and mid-length holidays (21%) than existing Kent leisure tourists (43% and 14% respectively). Cultural tourists’ tendency to spend longer in Kent supports the need to actively engage in promoting the cultural tourism offer further.

● 54% of those surveyed associate Kent as a cultural destination (above the VisitEngland average of 35% for Great Britain)

● Cultural tourists also value destinations with an attractive natural setting.

● Cultural trips are extremely diverse, and are increasingly about authentic experiences across multiple sites and businesses in one destination, all of which help visitors to understand and experience the place, its people and its culture.

The research has also newly defined what a ‘cultural destination’ is:

“The cultural destination is a networked space delivering a total experience to visitors that helps them understand a location and its people, through history and contemporary culture.”

TCBUS-4834

Turner and the Elements, Turner Contemporary. Photo Stephen White

Culture is regarded as a key driver for tourism, with World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) figures estimating 37% of world travel is undertaken by ‘cultural tourists’. Cultural tourism has maintained its upward trend in the face of economic austerity, particularly seen along the South East of England’s Creative Coast.

Declining coastal areas have experienced a renaissance, with economic investment in culture increasing tourism, both domestic and inbound, to the South East, such as Turner Contemporary in Margate, Folkestone Triennial and Whitstable Biennale.

Turner Contemporary has spearheaded the regeneration of Margate, welcoming over 2.5 million visits since it opened in 2011 and contributing over £58 million into the local economy through tourism and inward investment.

Director of Turner Contemporary, Victoria Pomery OBE said:

“The new research undertaken via the Culture Kent project has shown us that the arts can drive and sustain economic and social change by attracting cultural tourists. From this insight, we plan to create more meaningful, relevant experiences for visitors and the local community. We are very excited to be using this knowledge to further our impact, and deliver Culture Coasting – an ambitious project, which will include new artistic commissions and benefit the whole of the Creative Coast in the South East.”

Project Director Culture Kent Sarah Dance said:

“The Culture Kent Project gave us important new insight into cultural tourism to the county. This new research allows us to understand our audiences better, meaning we are now able to deliver a real step-change in the visitor economy. We know that in order to become a really successful ‘cultural destination’ we need to be a networked area, delivering a total experience to visitors that helps them understand a location and its people, through history and contemporary culture. Culture Coasting will take forward this knowledge to create a new and exciting connected experience for visitors to the South East coast region.”

Director, Tourism and Events Research Hub at Canterbury Christ Church University Dr Karen Thomas said:

“The findings from the Culture Kent research programme show that the time is right for increased cross-sectoral working, with key drivers converging to support the move to more collaborative work between tourism and culture/the arts. Culture Kent created an effective enabling environment for this, unlocking new possibilities for the sectors to work together. This research is important to the legacy of Culture Kent, providing an enhanced understanding of the cultural tourism landscape together with organisational and consumer perspectives on cultural tourism.”

Antony Gormley, ANOTHER TIME, 2017. Photo credit Stephen White (8) - 1500px

ANOTHER TIME XXI, 2013 © Antony Gormley. On Fulsam Rock on the Margate foreshore. Photography by Thierry Bal

This significant new research informs an ambitious new project led by Turner Contemporary and Visit Kent, Culture Coasting.

A pioneering new cultural trail will be created, combining original new artworks by leading contemporary artists with geocaching treasure trail technology to offer visitors a unique new experience. The three-year project is funded by Arts Council England’s Cultural Destinations programme and VisitEngland’s Discover England Fund and will create a step-change in the visitor economy, increasing tourists to the South East by 2020.

Turner Contemporary will work with partners across the South East coast from Eastbourne to the Thames Estuary: Towner Art Gallery, De La Warr Pavilion, Jerwood Gallery, Creative Foundation, Whitstable Biennale and Metal, to create the trail.

The project has also secured significant investment from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), East Sussex County Council and Kent County Council.

Culture Coasting will demonstrate how new initiatives and a networked cultural destination can increase tourism across a region.

You can read the full report and case studies, as well as research insight summaries by clicking on the links below:

Summary of Findings (Executive summary)
Culture Kent Summary of Findings report

Detailed research reports:
Audit of the Cultural Tourism Landscape (i)
Audit of the Cultural Tourism Landscape (ii)
Organisational Perspectives
Consumer perspectives

Research insights summaries:
Research Insights – Evidence Review
Research Insights – Organisational perspective
Research Insights – Consumer perspective

Case studies:
Culture Kent Case Study 1 – Margate
Culture Kent Case Study 2 – Folkestone
Culture Kent Case Study 3 – Dover
Culture Kent Case Study 4 – Canterbury
Culture Kent Case Study 5 – Whitstable
Culture Kent Case Study 6 – Medway

Legacy:
Round Table legacy and ways forward
Round Table Best practice

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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.

Summer of Colour (part 4) – Reflections

Feedback from artists, organisations and visitors
We used Survey Monkey both before and after the festival to measure, awareness of the Summer of Colour, its aims, branding and marketing, impact on partners and to gain more detailed feedback from artists and organisations who were involved in the delivery.

Overwhelmingly we had a positive response from all partners for the idea and motivation behind the Summer of Colour, as well as a strong call for a festival to occur each year, in some form.

“There people who probably got involved in a deeper way than they were expecting to. They chanced across something and got involved. There were two people for example who came around the Tudor House when I had a [knitting] workshop there who saw it going on and said “can I join in?” and then went back to London and sent their pieces and then came and saw the exhibition when it was on and took photographs of it and have this relationship with the town maybe slightly more deeply now that they have contributed to something that was happening here. I think that for both residents and visitors, opportunities were created for a more meaningful engagement.”
~ Artist

Nearly all of the Summer of Colour events and commissions were delivered by Margate and Kent artists and organisations. In most cases where this was not so, artists based in and around Margate were instrumental in the delivery. An example would be Follow the Herring and the opportunity within that project to employ a lead artist to develop the local response. It was useful to have this learning echoed in the post event survey

“What worked best was where the activity was a product of local arts organisations or practitioners, or collaboration with local, as opposed to the bought in projects. So, more of the local/ collaboration with local should be a future ambition…and of course it takes more time and resource”
~ Funder

Not all feedback was unqualified praise however and we received useful and constructive feedback. There are some key issues to consider which came up more than once from partners and within Turner Contemporary and include:

Longer lead time – to allow for more joined up planning, more collaborative projects, a better understanding across all sections of the town, not just the Old Town and to develop collaborative funding applications to TDC, KCC And ACE to create projects with greater impact.

“Everyone was invited to a meeting back in October, which was the initial time that the idea for Summer of Colour was announced, October 2013. But then there was no further communication until January time. I think that whole three months, people could have been brought together more, and more frequently to start building ideas, to start developing ideas, start joining things up – certainly in terms of funding – same old chestnut is money to do things – is that then somehow there could have been a greater chance of trying to gain a bigger pot of money as a joined up event, rather than lots of people all going after little bits of money”
~ Artist

More printed information. Budgetary constraints meant that we were limited in how much we could produce – also the fluid nature of the program meant that we drove as much publicity through social media and the web. However on several occasions, in conversations with visitors, we were made aware that this meant we were failing to reach as many people as possible. Simple measures such as more obvious signage outside the gallery for late night openings would have helped and there has been subsequent discussion about the development of a weekly ‘What’s on’ flier which could be available at cafes and shops across the town.

Art in unexpected places. One of the key ambitions of the Cultural Destination pilot was to work with non arts venues in the visitor economy, bars, hotels, shops and cafes. Some early ideas, such as installing a Spencer Finch work at the railway station, stalled and failed to proceed. Others such as a planned intervention off the High Street (Andrew’s Passage) were affected by closure of the public right of way. There were some successes including the support for Shades of Colour workshops at Proper Coffee.

“One of the good things that happened was lots of new people coming together who had similar interest and coming to place when some of them had been, some of them hadn’t been and making new contacts, being involved in something that is for the town for the good of the town. It was really nice to have that in our shop.”
~ Violet Prig, owner Proper Coffee

Conclusion
The Summer of Colour met its aims. It demonstrated the value and benefit of working collaboratively, cross art-form and with partners and their appetite for more work of this nature. It brought new audiences to the gallery and gave some visitors the opportunity to deepen their engagement with Mondrian and Colour and with Turner Contemporary. That’s not to say that it was a complete success and there are a number of key learning points which will go into future plans. Discussions are underway about how to build on the partnerships and activity for Summer 2015.

image Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary (photo: Carlos Dominguez. With thanks to Zumtobel)

Read the previous post: Summer of Colour (part 1) -Background and Headlines

Read the previous post: Summer of Colour (part 2) – Delivery of The Framework

Read the previous post: Summer of Colour (part 3) – The Projects

Summer of Colour (part 3) – The Projects

Cross artform: Working with Tyneside based Customs House to support their ACE funded Strategic Touring project Follow the Herring (FTH) enabled us to employ Margate based artist Dan Chilcott, to create a new work and utilise his art practice, knitting, to deliver Coat for Boat. We made new relationships with a community of highly skilled knitters who were not existing Turner Contemporary visitors and worked closely with Theatre Royal Margate to develop audiences for the performance element of the FTH tour Get up and Tie your Fingers.

“Seeing something that was made using a craft that they are masters of was really personal, so it made that gallery space a really personal experience for them and I think demystified some of that aura around the gallery experience that is quite set up for certain types of art activity and certain types of discussion and I think that Summer of Colour made that more accessible through some of its projects” ~ Dan Chilcott

Image Coat for a Boat

Summer of Colour: Coat for a Boat

Image Coat for a Boat

Summer of Colour: Coat for a Boat

Animating the exhibitions for a wide audience. We achieved this through our approach to programming with partners across art forms and in numerous and varied locations. Pairs of events on and offsite, such as bringing dance to gallery were an excellent example.

There was notable variety in the programming within the gallery from Shiva Nova’s Equator festival event as part of July’s First Friday, to Tom Thumb Theatre’s On Margate Sounds both of which brought their existing audiences into the space. Part of Shiva Nova’s event included a Bollywood dance workshop led by Ash Mukerjee.

Image Red by Shiva Nova, First Friday

Summer of Colour: Red by Shiva Nova, First Friday

Responses to Shiva Nova event; contemporary Indian dance and music in the Sunley Gallery.

“The dancers were amazing and I loved the interactive dance workshop prior to the show. Gorgeous venue. More please! Thank you.”

“Just thoroughly enjoyed it. Brilliant dancers. Fantastic venue for this kind of music”

“The dance was exceptional and the backdrop of the tides made it a magical setting”

Offsite: The Summer of Colour delivered giant windmills across the town, knitting in the Tudor House and in libraries, workshops at Proper Coffee and dancing in the Old Town working with South East Dance who delivered Les Danses de Dom’s Cubing Bis ; Red Ladies in helicopters, boats and on the roof and jazz on the terrace. There was a steamroller printing in the High Street and installations of artworks from the gallery to Cliftonville. We took workshops out to Ramsgate and Broadstairs and installed the windmills at the Powell Cotton Museum as part of their Vintage Vibe event. All of these events were designed expressly to ensure that the Summer of Colour created multiple opportunities for the public to get involved and be part of the wider festival.

Image Red Ladies by Clod Ensemble

Summer of Colour: Red Ladies by Clod Ensemble

Image Red Ladies by Clod Ensemble

Summer of Colour: Red Ladies by Clod Ensemble

We commissioned a film as part of the Summer of Colour evaluation and invited partners to be interviewed for the film which has given us some incredibly useful material for reflection and to plan future activity.

Read the previous post: Summer of Colour (part 1) -Background and Headlines

Read the previous post: Summer of Colour (part 2) – Delivery of The Framework