Presentation at COaST conference

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DAD was invited to talk at the Christchurch University symposium: On the Threshold: Culture and Change in Towns by the Sea, held on 10 July, 2013.

Summary of Joanna’s 15-minute presentation:
Both Clare and  Joanna  arrived in Dover after extensive periods of living in mainland Europe – Clare 15 years in Luxembourg and Joanna 20 years in Germany – and settled at the point of their arrival and departure like so many thousands before them. Coming to live in the UK marked a huge change in both our lives and it took some time to realise what changes were happening in the place and region where we had arrived.

Joanna’s talk briefly outlined DAD’s development since its forming in 2006 and incorporation in 2008, DAD’s inclusion on the cultural framework steering comitee in 2008, which was greeted with some scepticism from the larger organisations, and the custodianship of the resulting Cultural Framework Document awarded to DAD together with Dover Museum in 2011, when it was adopted by DDC. The support over these years from the now no-longer-existing Dover Pride and the Kent arts unit was invaluable.

Reference was also made to the importance of funding from sources such as “Sea Change” that enabled DAD to deliver smaller projects around the larger developments such as the Tonkin Liu Esplanade in Dover.

“DAD has built up through the years an approach that values individuals within the community making our projects accessible without in any way dumbing down our ambition for artistic excellence. We take people along with us enabling unusual crossovers. There has been a real shift driven partly by the economic situation but also from relationship building. The success of the Turner Contemporary in Margate and The Folkestone Triennial in Folkestone has helped underpin those changes in perspective and there is a healthy dialogue now between the various smaller organisations and initiatives.

The increasing openess of universites to link in with the arts organisations is something we really welcome. It is a 2-way feed that we really enjoy – giving graduates oportunities and placements, as well as enabling universites to use us for research and call on our experience and expertise on the ground.

Much of our work is to maintain an attitude of fun that as artists we have with our work and which as far as DAD is concerned is paramount to the success and creativity of a project.”

The presentation included a clip from Watermark and 3 examples of DAD projects that have taken on a life of their own in Dover

1. How Does Your Garden Grow, part of the 2012 Love Architecture Festival led by the architects of Dover’s Esplanade, Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu, together with DAD, planting up the shingle beds, where the original planting had not thrived. Dover Harbour Board gave their permission and Dover Town Council gave a grant. The event began with a talk by Paul Holt from the WCCP on how plants adapt to the harsh environment of the shingle beds and the types of plants that may do well in these conditions.

Several Dover residents joined in with the planting of the many plant plugs, more than expected thanks to an additional 900 plants from British Wildflower plants, watering was thanks to a bowser loaned by Dover Town Council with water from the Sea Sports Centre. Over the next few months a group of volunteers took care of the new plants and continue to document and take care of their progress.

2. The Red carpet was intially painted through the underpass for people to walk on on their way to the Olympic festivities on the sea front when the Olympic torch came into Dover. It has now been extended as a permanant feature by Sustrans as part of their bicycle route through the underpass!

3. Matthias Koch’s new body of work on Dover, part of his Places of History series, enabled through our current 18-month ACE and KCC funded War & Peace programme is attracting interest from people and organisations within Dover, as well as nationally and internationally.

“Culture is helping to transform the negativity that has grown up in the coastal towns into an afirmative embracing of life and a recognition of the  possibilities in these historically rich places. Our luck was to relocate to the UK at this moment in time when there is an openness to developing new ideas and ways of living by the sea, with the added bonus of a fast train to London or the continent when we want it.”

Photos courtesy Nigel Green, Chris Burke, DAD and Matthias Koch

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