Dan is an award-winning social artist, writer, and speaker living in Margate.

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.

Past Work

Dan was the founder and director of Revolutionary Arts (2000-2015) and author of Pop Up Business For Dummies (2012). In 2012, he was included in the Time Out and Hospital Club’s Culture 100, a list of the most inspiring and influential people in the UK’s creative industries.

Tea party at Workshop 24Dan has used empty shops for 13 years, and he is now a recognised expert on the reuse of empty shops, and on how to create a pop up shop, and runs the Empty Shops Network.

He also started #riotcleanup, after the August 2011 riots in London. That project inspired the Nesta-funded #wewillgather, which uses social media for social good. For this work, he has been singled out by David Cameron as an example of great British leadership.

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.

Everyday RadicalsHe is the author of Pop Up Business For Dummies, published Oct 2012, and has previously written the Empty Shops Toolkit for the government’s Living Places programme. In 2012, he authored and published Pop Up People, the first study of pop up urbanism, which has been read by government ministers. Mary Portas referenced his work in her High Street Review.

Dan has written for The Independent, the Daily Express and The Guardian. Other media includes The Sunday Times, Evening Standard and The Stylist, and he has also been featured in news reports on BBC News, Radio 4, Sky News, ABC and CNN.

As well as his Culture 100 award, Dan 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.

Natural capital gets lots of air time because banks – in their ongoing quest to own the world – like to invest. Social capital? Not so much. They’re so tricky, humans, aren’t they – with their foibles and need to be treated humanely? Dan Thompson bangs the drum on behalf of all of us. He is expert at unlocking potential in people and places that are ignored. If he was in the private sector he’d have a knighthood!

Lucy Siegle, Eco writer, founder Observer Ethical Awards, broadcaster, The One Show

DT is a visionary, an artist with a heartfelt sense of what matters in the real world, and the gumption to make it happen, not once but often. It’s unusual to spend time with Dan and not to come away inspired.

John-Paul Flintoff, journalist and author of How To Change The World

Dan Thompson showed the best of Britain by helping organise the clean-up operation after last summer’s riots.

David Cameron, Prime Minister


  • Time Out and the Hospital Club – The Culture 100
  • Observer Ethical Awards 2013 – shortlist
  • The Independent – Happy List 2012
  • Winner Coast Awards 2011 ‘Unsung Coastal Hero’
  • Mayor of London – Team London Award 2011
  • Listed in Twitter’s 2011 Year In Review for #riotcleanup
  • Named in GQ ‘100 Most Influential Men In Britain’ for #riotcleanup
  • On the From Desk Till Dawn ‘Cool List 2011’
  • The Independent – Independent Voices 2011, Runner up

Selected Talks & Workshops:

Pop up shops and temporary urbanism

  • Assembly Margate – a-n (2017)
  • Renew Australia – Creating Spaces Conference, Newcastle NSW (2013)
  • Creatief Met Leegstand Festival, Rotterdam (2012)
  • Arts Council England State of the Arts Conference (2012)
  • Buurt Flirt, Rotterdam (2011)
  • PLACE NI, Belfast (2010)
  • RIBA’s Guerilla Tactics (2009)
  • Spacemakers at Brixton Village (2009)

Organising without organisations; leadership & social media

  • All-Ireland Performing Arts Conference (APAC), Galway (2016)
  • Global Entrepreneurship Week, Portsmouth (2013)
  • Unilever – Household Cleaning Forum, Stresa, Italy (2012)
  • Unilever – Household Cleaning Forum, London (2012)
  • Sussex Police Leader’s Conference – keynote speaker (2011)
  • Hampshire School for Social Entrepreneurs (2012)

Community action 

  • Festival of Love, Southbank Centre (2014)
  • Little Big Peace Festival, Streatham (2012)
  • Greenbelt Festival (2011)
  • V Inspired – Team V programme (2011-2012)
  • Engage International Conference (2011)


BBC News, Sky News, CNN, ABC, Radio 4, The Independent, The Guardian, Sunday Times, Evening Standard, The Stylist, BBC Radio Scotland

  • ITV2 ‘Tweets of the Year 2011′
  • BBC Radio 4 iPM ‘Alternative New Year Honours 2011′
  • Radio 1’s ‘The Story of Trends’ (2012)
  • Yell Ministry of Found campaign (2011)


  • Author, ‘It’s All About The Road’ (published by Appetite, June 2015)
  • Author ‘Pop Up Shops For Dummies’ (published Wiley, October 2012)
  • Guardian CiF, Independent Blogs, a-n Magazine, Mailout, New Start, Computer Arts, Folksy, Mollie Makes
  • Wrote introduction to The Caravan Gallery’s ‘Is Britain Great? 3′.

Talks & workshops for education

University of the Arts, Central St Martins, Southampton Solent University, The Littlehampton Academy, Midhurst Rother Academy, Worthing High School

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