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

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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

Summer of Colour (part 2) – Delivery of The Framework

Delivery
Delivery of Summer of Colour was led by a freelance Creative Programmer who was appointed in late December 2013 and started in post in January 2014. Much of the delivery was in partnership with external artists and organisations many of whom are based in Margate.

What we did, how, with whom
The Creative Programmer established a framework under which the Summer of Colour programme could be broadly divided into three types of activity.

  • Turner Contemporary projects: many of these were core to Turner Contemporary’s summer programme and were led by and delivered by Turner Contemporary’s staff and team, some were already programmed and discussions under way eg, Carlos Cortez “Moving with the Wind”
  • Turner Contemporary co-delivered/co commissioned: these were projects which, based on the aims of the Summer of Colour we were keen to bring to Margate. These included projects which we instigated and some where the Turner Contemporary’s team assisted in delivery – either through part funding, assistance with securing Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts funding or other support.
  • Partners’ delivery: these were projects, events, installations or performances which made a significant contribution to Summer of Colour and were key to the success of the programme. Turner Contemporary supported these projects though funding, marketing, support in kind, use of Turner Contemporary as a venue. These were almost entirely led by and instigated by partners, using Summer of Colour as a framework in which to situate the work or as a catalyst for it. We supported projects where there was a clear link to the Summer of Colour aims, for example the presentation of work already commissioned by South East Dance – Cubing Bis

In addition we wanted to encourage those planning and delivering their own events to share that information and use the Summer of Colour as a platform for marketing and comms, to contribute to the sense of a vibrant and exciting series of summer events and to enable them to benefit from our promotion. We commissioned the Summer of Colour website, using a re-skinned One in a Million site with added functionality to allow easy upload for events, plus photos to the Gallery page.

image Moving with the wind by Carlos Cortez

Moving with the wind by Carlos Cortez (photo: Manu Palomeque)

How we delivered the festival
We created a clear framework, based upon the overarching aims (cross art-form, paired events, inspired by colour, offsite and in unusual spaces, aiming for non-arts and local audiences) and invited ideas and contributions to the programme through a series of face to face meetings.

Over the first three months (Jan-March), the Creative Programmer made contact with over 70 individuals and organisations and had meetings with at least 30. This face to face approach, often off site and in the town was beneficial in demonstrating the commitment of Turner Contemporary to work collaboratively. Over a third of the partners had not collaborated with Turner Contemporary before and 100% of partners have now said they would like to collaborate with Turner Contemporary in future.

We gave a clear message that whilst Mondrian and Colour was Turner Contemporary’s exhibition, the Summer of Colour belonged to Margate. The clear framework and the aims, plus the commitment within the aims to collaborate with external partners, across art forms, made it easier to say yes to projects and ideas and to take creative risks, and it made it easier for artists to approach us with their ideas.

The ownership that we feel and that hopefully the town feels, has been in place before now, but this, the Summer of Colour feels like it’s very much a kind of “here’s the platform, now stand on it” – so we can have people semi-autonomously putting proposals forward from commissioned based pieces of work, shops got involved and as artists and creatives and as a member of Resort Studios up in Cliftonville we felt like part of, an integral part of, what was happening”
~ Emrys Plant

Image On Margate Sounds, First Friday

Summer of Colour: On Margate Sounds, First Friday

In addition to sharing the overarching aims and ambition with partners we devised an approach to the programme with ‘pairs’ of activity on and offsite. The intention being to encourage two-way traffic between events which took place at the gallery and those delivered by our partners in their locations, to broaden our reach and attract a more diverse audience. We focused on programing non-visual arts activity by seeking out music, dance and theatre partners and delivering work such as the newly commissioned tango, inspired by Mondrian developed by Morgan’s and delivered in the gallery.

As well as thematic or art-form pairings, we aimed to create clusters of similarly themed activity in order to create high points in the programme, days or weekends when multiple activities would take place in several locations. An excellent example was the Margate Jazz Festival in mid June which took place across the town over three days, popping up in bars and cafés, as well as on the terrace at Turner Contemporary and in the gallery spaces.

Image Jazz on the terrace of Turner Contemporary

Summer of Colour: Jazz on the terrace of Turner Contemporary

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

Kent Greeters Rewarded

Image Kent Greeters

Summer of Colour: Kent Greeters

In preparation for the Summer of Colour, 30 local ambassadors were trained, with the help of Visit Kent World Host training, to become Summer of Colour Kent Greeters. Last Thursday (11th September 2014) Mark Dance, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Kent County Council, hosted a certificate ceremony to recognise their great work and say a big Thank You.