His work is about people and places, and the stories that connect them. He is interested in the creation of social capital, in activating abandoned or underused spaces, and in DIY approaches to art, culture and social action. Dan often starts work with a crowdsourced exploration of a place, or with archives or collections relating to a place or topic. His work often touches on themes of migration in the UK.
Current & recent work
With five artists, he is exploring connections between the Lochnagar Crater on the Somme battlefields and TS Eliot’s time in Margate writing The Waste Land.
In an ongoing collaborating with Dawn Cole, he’s exploring the archives of two Margate printing companies. And he is ghost writing a series of short history books about Dreamland, Margate with a woman who’s lived in the town since 1700.
Dan has recently programmed The Troublemakers’ Festival for From The Station To The Sea in Swansea. He has also working with the Southampton Cultural Development Trust to map creative use of space across the city. He has also just written a number of documents making up a successful £1 million bid for Heritage Lottery Fund money to reopen Margate Caves.
In 2016, Dan made new work for the first Estuary Festival (exhibited at Gravesend, Tilbury and Margate) and in 2015 published a complete history of Stoke, from the Ice Age to thirty years in the future, told through stories he collected on one road.
A brief biography
During the 1990s, while Dan was in his 20s, he was the manager of a former workshop space at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing and oversaw its transformation into a studio. He also founded the Worthing Dome & Regeneration Trust, and wrote a business plan and funding applications which saw the historic cinema’s complete refurbishment. Both buildings are still in use today.
Dan has used empty shops since 2000, and he is now a recognised expert on the reuse of empty shops, and on how to create a pop up shop. His work has been referenced by two governments and Arts Council England. He is the author of the Pop Up People report, and of Pop Up Business For Dummies, published Oct 2012.
Dan has provided advice and support to projects across the UK, and spoken at workshops, festivals and seminars across the country, and in Holland, Italy and Australia. He has worked for Unilever, RIBA, Renew Australia, the Transported Creative People & Places programme, Place NI, vInspired, University of the Arts, Spacemakers and Yell.
In 2011, Dan started #riotcleanup, bringing together thousands of people to start a post-riot relief operation which spread from London to other cities affected by rioting. This work saw him praised by the Prime Minister, and led to the creation of #wewillgather, a social volunteering platform which was funded by Nesta and the Office for Civil Society. The #wewillgather website was used directly to start over 365 actions, recruited at least 5475 volunteers, and unlocked over 8200 volunteer hours.
Dan has a Culture 100 award, recognising him as one of the hundred most influential people in the world of arts and culture. Dan also made The Independent Happy List 2012, the BBC Radio 4 iPM Alternative New Year Honours 2011, received a Team London Award from the Mayor of London, was named in GQ’s 100 Most Influential list and was winner of the Coast Awards 2011 ‘Unsung Hero’ trophy