The Turner Prize is coming to Margate

In 2019, the Turner Prize hits the regions again – and while it’s recently gone to big cities like Glasgow (population 600,000 – 1,000,000) and Hull (population 260,000) this time, it’s coming to Turner Contemporary, Margate (population 40,000).

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A big show in a small town will have a huge impact; in Glasgow the show attracted 75,000 visitors, at the Baltic in Gateshead 149,770, and it’s reasonable to expect more in a venue only 1.5 hours from London by train. And especially, in a place that already fills with London visitors every weekend. Turner Contemporary has been an incredible success, and its most successful show was Grayson Perry’s Provincial Punk, with 192,177 visitors – so that’s the target to beat.

The Turner Prize comes at a key time for Turner Contemporary, too. Opened in 2011, visitor numbers would be expected to drop off a little about now – Dreamland’s two reopenings (first in 2015, then again while still in administration in 2017) have undoubtedly helped keep numbers up for the gallery, so an extra publicity boost in 2019 is a good thing.

The gallery are keen to look for a long-term impact from the Turner Prize, and are keen to engage local people in a conversation about how to maximise the show’s impact. It’s worth remembering that Turner Contemporary owes its success to a local ecology of cafes, small independent galleries, boutiques and vintage shops that mean a two hour gallery visit can easily become a weekend stay. Day trippers are bad for the economy: they typically cost more to attract and to service than they spend locally. So making Margate a place where you can spend a weekend is vital to both the gallery’s and the area’s long term success.

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The first open conversation about the Turner Prize was held at Turner Contemporary yesterday. About forty people attended, representing a mix of local authorities, arts organisations, and visitor attractions. It was clear from the attendance that the show was attracting interest from Canterbury, and the wider East Kent area. Artists were keen to be in the room, and were vocal contributors. There were notable local absences, too – nobody from Dreamland, for example.

 

The conversation took the (dreaded) World Cafe format – where you sit around tables, have a guided discussion around a central proposition, write your thoughts on the tablecloth and then move to the next table and the next proposition. I can see there are merits to this methodology; but it’s used at every Turner Contemporary event, and the central propositions are never strong enough for a real debate. Can anyone argue strongly around ‘People of all backgrounds should be able to thrive’?

Having spent 17 years attending meetings very much like this, I’m always amazed by the lack of ambition these events bring out. Most of the discussion focused on things so obvious, it’s hard to believe they’re being discussed and not done. We should ensure visitors can find other attractions, we should link up with nearby attractions, we should ensure local people come to the gallery, we should welcome people at the station and so on. Well, yes.

The Turner Prize has the possibility of being a big gear change for Turner Contemporary and everyone involved in the local creative ecology. It also has the potential to misfire, as it’s always controversial – the potential to accelerate the way property funds are buying up the area and do real damage to affordable living locally – and perhaps worst, the potential to just be another show at Turner, which many local people still don’t visit.

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So – in the spirit of starting a proper conversation, here are my ambitions for Turner Contemporary and the Turner Prize. This isn’t a costed, prepared plan – it’s a quick response to yesterday’s event. And it’s not everything; of course we should join up with other local attractions (Margate Caves open their new visitor centre in 2019), encourage more local people to visit and so on. That’s all a given. But here’s some ambition.

1. More Turner, everywhere

Turner Contemporary is a charity, established to stimulate Margate’s culture-led regeneration. That’s worked, and there’s a vibrant creative ecology around Margate – but it’s fragile. Rent is already going up; artists are already leaving. Currently, Thanet District Council is undergoing a massive asset disposal – small buildings, workshops, and anything not needed for core service delivery is going. So here’s the idea: Turner Contemporary should become the preferred new owner for any assets being disposed of. Between now and the Turner Prize, Turner Contemporary should take on a range of buildings around the town. Some can be let as studios or workshops, some as residential space for artists, some let commercially to generate extra income, some run as Turner Contemporary satellites. For example, as Northdown Road’s footfall is growing, a Costa has opened. Turner Contemporary has driven that footfall – it should be a Turner Contemporary coffee shop that reaps the rewards. A bold move, but acts like this would create additional income streams, and maintain, preserve and enhance the ecology around Turner Contemporary, and make sure it doesn’t become a victim of its own success: a gallery surrounded by Costa, Cath Kidston and White Stuff isn’t worth a weekend stay.

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2. Everyone’s connected to Turner

Turner Contemporary should become the major training body in Margate. It shouldn’t just train people in unambitious ways, to be volunteers in their own gallery; it should support proper job training across the area. Coffee shops would have Turner Contemporary-supported baristas, cafes would have Turner Contemporary trained chefs, shop staff will attend subsidised Turner Contemporary training courses, teaching assistants and nursery staff will be taught at Turner Contemporary, and local electricians will learn new specialist skills with the gallery’s help. At the same time, Turner Contemporary should develop apprenticeships in all the roles it needs, from Front of House to maintenance. Again, this is about that ecology: Turner Contemporary’s success is because of the Old Town, the lower High Street, and increasingly Northdown Road. If you’re attracting visitors to Turner Contemporary, your customer care extends outside the gallery to all those places, so making them good is protecting your name and reputation. And at the same time, you’re ensuring that young people locally have good quality jobs, and real prospects. In an area where 50% of children are still growing up in poverty, that’s vital.

3. Chipperfield hacked

Let’s hack the Turner Contemporary architecture. The building, by David Chipperfield, is a few years old and we know its limitations now. The outside plaza is underused, the legibility of the front of the building is awful, the front doors are unfriendly and stick, the foyer is a dead space. The green space at the side is unloved and never used. The space between Turner Contemporary and the sea is a carpark, recently vandalised with clumsy road markings. The outside of Turner Contemporary lacks the life the inside has. Jane Jacobs would hate it. Margate is brilliant at using space – look at the slightly chaotic life of the Harbour Arm, the buzz around the Sundeck at Nayland Rock, or the anarchic spirit of Fort Road Yard. And when Turner Contemporary has used those spaces – for example, with Dwelling for Summer of Colour (pictured), it’s been transformational. By the time the Turner Prize arrives, let’s have a plan in place for the front, the outside, and the areas around Turner Contemporary; let’s make Turner Contemporary a place, not a building.

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4. Bored

Turner Contemporary should be governed by the people it represents and works with. The Board of Trustees  does great work in keeping the gallery going, but the mix of people from the banking sector, big organisations and art world establishment could do with hearing more local voices. The typical local panel or representative group is still an exercise in power: and doesn’t encourage real listening and debate. There should be three local board members, chosen for their potential: they should be given support and training to join the board and a mentor to help them become confident contributors.

If we do this right – all the other stuff will happen, because Turner Contemporary will be properly rooted in Margate.

 

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Next time in TribevTribe

What didn’t work. In the spirit I always talk about, that discussing failure’s important, here are the bits I want to improve for future (and a rider to this – this is my personal list, not a detailed evaluation, and it’s thrown up quickly). Some of these are very local but are things to watch out for if the game goes elsewhere. You must read yesterday’s post about what worked alongside this one.

  1. The least used check in was the one inside Dreamland. While the Roller Disco and The Quarterdeck were well used, players didn’t get inside Dreamland, and we didn’t turn the people who were visiting Dreamland into players. We had Dreamland staff playing, but even they didn’t check in inside the park (even though they did go to other venues). If TribevTribe happens in big places, it needs a bigger presence.
  2. When staff from Dreamland and Turner Contemporary were playing, we could have made more of getting them to play against each other than we did. In week one and two, we kept them competitive, but it would have been good to have encouraged the organisations themselves to push this more internally. I had hoped this would create a game within the game.
  3. We didn’t use our players as the mechanism to get new people playing enough. We know this could work, and a few times it did, but we should have pushed it harder.
  4. We got some people Tweeting, using Instagram and watching the Facebook page, but we never took it further. We didn’t have the time or budget to fix the mechanics for people who wanted to play entirely online. An app overlaid on the real world game would be a good way to take this further, but you still need the real, physical game. Could the further away players encourage, mobilise, act as back room teams for the players locally? We needed this version of the game to work out how a more online version could work, though; it was like a big card sorting exercise.
  5. We didn’t add as many new check ins as we could have, mainly because I ran out of bits to make them! It would be good to have the time to mass produce log books, Chance cards and so on. To be more responsive, to add new check ins quickly.
  6. Some people ignored TribevTribe, and I felt that while it’s good that Cliftonville is developing its own identity, it was perhaps too separate. Visitors don’t care whether it’s Margate or Cliftonville, and could be encouraged to move around more. We tried to get Resort on the board, and the Tribes Festival was run from the Tom Thumb Theatre, but we didn’t nail either to involvement in the game. Venues in the Old Town and the lower High Street were more enthusiastic. How can we create something which drives visitors to Cliftonville, if Cliftonville doesn’t want to join up with what’s happening elsewhere? We made lots of good links, connections, and moved people to new places, but not in this case.
  7. With a bigger production team, we could have got check ins set up at some of the events happening around Margate too. We tried to get a check in at the Art Car Boot, for example, but didn’t get it sorted until very late so it didn’t happen. Again the short timescale we worked to made this harder.
  8. I think 6. and 7. show where we could have done with a little bit of help. TribevTribe played across some of the venues involved in the Tribes Festival, but a little bit of nudging other places from the Tribes Festival organisers might have meant we had check ins at more venues and events. I understand the budget and time constraints, but think future festivals need a bit of active curation to encourage collaboration. The space between exhibitions, events – the bit that TribevTribe occupied – the bit where audiences can find new experiences, move from thing to thing – is important. We need to develop audiences, get new people to see things, and make it easy for people who already see some things to try new ones. To make sure events, actions, happenings, dovetail.
  9. Our final week was the quietest, although it did swing the final results. It was after the school holidays, and after a big burst of activity in Margate, so there were fewer visitors in town, and fewer residents out around Margate as well. There were fewer check ins, but this allowed the Mods to play tactically, take places, and win the game. We could have pushed extra places, extra rewards more this week.

Game Over #tribevtribe

So after 30 odd days, TribevTribe v0.1 has finished. Game Over. What worked well?

  1. People played together. Families; we saw mother, daughter, and grandma playing together a couple of times. Was TribevTribe mostly played by women? Seems so, though that’s not data we recorded. Friends; we saw small groups trying to outplay each other, too. On different sides.
  2. People played as much or as little as they wanted. Some people tried to visit every venue, some tried to find every badge, some played for the whole month, getting tactical towards the end. Some people dipped in for a day, on a daytrip, down from London or on a day off work.
  3. People found new places, or found that TribevTribe gave them an excuse to go to places they wouldn’t normally go. Richard said he’d found the Shell Grotto by playing, and a couple said they’d had their first pints in The Quarterdeck when they went there to play.Tweet 1
  4. All the stuff looked good. People liked the Dead Letter Boxes, log books and Chance cards. The mix of designed but homemade appealed; the lo-fi, some people said, made the game feel a bit edgy and underground. People nicked bits of the game to take home and keep.
  5. We let the Big Boys mess around. We hijacked a locker at Turner Contemporary and hid stuff in Dreamland. At both venues, staff seemed to enjoy the oddness, and were obviously excited or amused by players turning up. They delighted in making grown-ups say a silly password to get the Dead Letter Box.
  6. The history stuff got people talking. Places displaying posters for old gigs had conversations with their customers about those gigs, about memories, about what went before. People weren’t sure what was real, what was made up. Lines blurred.
  7. That and the Chance cards made people look a little harder, linger, even go back to find things they’d missed.
  8. People added bits, Children left drawings in Dead Letter Boxes. Other people added sweets. The boxes looked after themselves, or rather – people looked after them. Nothing went missing, nobody stole all the badges.Tweet 2
  9. We made things equal. Turner Contemporary got the same from the game as Breuer & Dawson, Rat Race was as important as Dreamland. Old places like The Shell Grotto were on the same level as new places like the Street Art Boutique.
  10. Players could cheat. Well, they described it as cheating; I think they hacked the game. Found ways to visit more places, found stooges to take their place for a day to score more, found ways to sign other people up for their team. It was a game that belonged to the players, not the referees.
  11. The Tribes Festival felt bigger because of the game. We took in more players, added a layer, got the places we were using talking about each other and about the game. TribevTribe was an effective amplifier.
  12. Bolting on things like the Wide Eyed Theatre workshop added layers to the game – even if that workshop had a low signup. Perhaps those things need a bit more integration to really work.
  13. We opened up Marine Studios. This place is a brilliant space. It’s got room for bumbling artists and anarchic thinkers, even while the main resident company are stretching themselves on a big pitch to an overseas client. More people came in, saw the place, and signed up as coworkers. The building, the space, was adaptable, agile, hackable and professional. We gave something back to the space by being there, too.
  14. It made me think, to look at my own work differently, to see a new angle on what I’d been doing for years.
  15. It was all done cheap, fast and dirty. We had about three weeks from the Green Light to having people playing. The budget covered a few days work, but people gave lots more because they were enjoying it.
  16. As well as TribevTribe, other work was made. Megan the producer made a series of drawings of the places in the game, and there will be more work for her from that. David joined us on work experience, shot a great bunch of pictures for his portfolio, was forced out of his comfort zone and got an exhibition.
  17. All that and it’s all only beta, test, trial, This version of TribevTribe is just the start. Imagine it with a budget and time.

TribevTribe

Five tribes will fight across Margate for the next month. TribevTribe is a month-long artwork which takes the centre of Margate as a board to play on.

When players choose to play they collect a Game Card, which randomly assigns them to one of five Tribes – Mods, Rockers, Punks, Hippies and Ravers. So if up to five people decide to play together, they’ll be playing for different teams.

Players visit venues across Margate, looking for a hidden Dead Letter Box. Usually taking the form of a wooden box, the Dead Letter Box is identified by some combination of the five Tribe symbols. Players can visit each venue once a week. In a few places, the Dead Letter Box is held by staff, and there’s a password to access it; the clue to these stashes can be found in other Dead Letter Boxes.

Chance back new copyEvery Dead Letter Box contains two things for sure; a Log Book and a pack of Chance cards. Players record that they’ve visited to score a point, and take a Chance card which can send them to other venues or set them another task to score more points. Dead Letter Boxes might also contain rewards or gifts left by other players. These might change week to week, and special rewards might be announced via social media.

Players can play by themselves, in secret; they can just visit each venue, find the Dead Letter Box and record their visit. The game is like a less technological version of geocaching. It’s a good way to explore Margate.

Or players can choose to play TribevTribe on a more social level. Players don’t know who else is on their team, but can accept Chance card challenges to use social media to meet other players.

Or they can, by gathering strangers together (and without even meeting them) play strategically, agreeing to all visit certain venues in an attempt to conquer them.

That’s important because scores are collected from the Dead Letter Boxes, and announced on a rolling basis. Each week, it will be announced which Tribe has scored most points and conquered each venue, encouraging the other teams to try to retake those places on the board.

Around twenty venues are involved in the work. Each venue can choose how to participate; the simplest way is just to host a Dead Letter Box. But some venues have chosen to get their staff playing, to add extra levels of content, or to champion one of the five Tribes on social media. The first fifteen venues are already in play – and more will be added next week. The venues are large, big public funded attractions like Turner Contemporary, and small, independent shops, cafes and attractions like The Shell Grotto, Rat Race and Proper Coffee.

Lower Third PosterOther venues are involved in another way. The game’s skin of subcultures has led to the creation of a series of posters referencing real gigs and events from Margate’s past; a residency in a community hall for The Lower Third, a Hawkwind community benefit, a wrestling match and so on. These post for long-gone gigs can be found displayed around the town, and players score extra points for finding them, too.

The game is designed to scale, flex and adapt as it happens; ‘it’s iterative design’, a Design Council expert said as she took her Game Card.

TribevTribe was conceived after carrying out evaluation of last year’s Summer of Colour, a festival organised by Turner Contemporary. That evaluation found that people’s movement across Margate from venue to venue was limited. And that people weren’t generally attending multiple events within the festival.

TribevTribe aims to address that, by giving people an incentive to move between places. But it also creates a linking structure for the diverse venues within the festival, and connects them to smaller independent shops, cafes and attractions across the town.

From Margate to the Edinburgh Festival

Clod EnsembleThe Edinburgh Festival is noisy, chaotic and colourful and has been since the end of the Second World War. But then, it’s not one festival; it’s over 40 separate festivals, happening at roughly the same time. Collectively they have a massive impact on the local visitor economy. Last year, the Edinburgh Fringe alone ran for 25 days and featured over 3100 shows from 51 countries in nearly 300 venues. On top of that nearly 1000 groups contributed to the street festival. The combined festivals generate over £260 million pounds for the Scottish economy and support nearly 10,000 jobs.

Importantly, the Edinburgh Festival gives people a chance to move from the familiar to new and uncharted territory. To step from shows, performers and companies they know to new experiences. 64% of visitors agreed that the Festivals had made them more likely to take greater risks in things they went to in the future, and 53% were more likely to attend other events because of the festival. Fortunately, audiences in East Kent don’t need the long train journey north to find shows with the quality, diversity and intensity of the Edinburgh Festival.

You could find Les Enfants Terribles, Peaceful Lion, New Old Friends, Kill The Beast, Tall Stories, Gavin Robertson, Sell a Door Theatre, Tara Arts, Worboys Productions, Clod Ensemble, Scamp Theatre, Show and Tell Company, Chameleon Dance Theatre, Nicholas Collett Productions, Theatre of Widdershins and Daniel Bye at the Edinburgh Festival. Or you could see them all at the Theatre Royal.

The building at the edge of Margate town centre might be seen as rather more historic than cutting edge, but in fact the programming (by Pam Hardiman) has made the second oldest theatre in the country a neat counterweight to Turner Contemporary on the seafront. While Turner Contemporary brings edgy artists like Tracey Emin, Jeremy Deller and Grayson Perry to a new brutalist building, the Theatre Royal fills a historic space that’s all red velvet and crinkly plasterwork with those artists’ equivalents in theatre.

Some Edinburgh highlights

Shit Girlfriend

7-23 August, Fingers Piano Bar

Think dating a musician is all glamour? Think again – gloom-pop solo artist She Makes War takes you through 10 reasons it’s a terrible idea. ‘It’s like someone playing with their phone in bed and ignoring you but, like, all the time.’ Sharing tales of real life on the road and ill-fated attempts at finding love along the way, plus explaining why music is the best boyfriend ever, this show is an enchanting blend of humorous spoken word and atmospheric melancholy music performance, via discussions on the workings of the creative brain, and internet versus IRL relationships.

The Red Chair

24-30 August, 10am The Demonstration Room, Summerhall,

A delicious feast for the imagination that tells the fabulous tale of a man who eats himself into his chair, The Red Chair lies somewhere between a Grimms’ Tale, an absurdist ghost story and a parent’s guide on how not to bring up children. As seen in a Theatre Royal presentation at Turner Contemporary. Written and performed by Sarah Cameron. A Clod Ensemble show (who also brought the Red Ladies to Margate), produced in association with Fuel

Going Viral

Through August; venue tbc

A new virus is sweeping the globe. A plague of weeping. You work in online marketing. This wasn’t what you bargained for. And why do you seem to be immune? By the writer and performer who brought Story Hunt to Margate.

Portrait

5-29 August (not 17, 24) 1:20pm Pleasance Dome, 10 Dome

A frank and funny look at the trials and tribulations of modern existence seen through the eyes of a young black woman. Candid and satirical, this playfully complelling one-woman show uses music, poetry and dance to ask the critical question: just how does a girl make it these days? An exciting debut solo show from rising talent Racheal Ofori. Directed for Edinburgh by Kate Hewitt.

I Am Not Myself These Days

5-30 August (not 17, 24) 4.15pm Pleasance Courtyard, Beneath

A surprising tale of love and loss, set amidst the excesses of 1990s New York, adapted from Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s bestselling autobiography. By turns brutal, funny and heartfelt this one man show evokes a time when Josh found himself working as a drag queen, battling alcoholism, and desperately trying to make a relationship work with Jack, a high-class crack addicted rent boy.Written and performed by Tom Stuart and directed by Nick Bagnall.

TribevTribe

“And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!”

“Have you used it much?” I enquired.

“It has never been spread out, yet,” said Mein Herr. “The farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”

Lewis Carroll, Sylvie & Bruno

Whenever you go down the roads in Britain, you travel not in three dimensions, but in four. The fourth dimension is the past. And as we move to and fro in this fourth dimension, we see not only landscape but the economic, political and social forces at work behind the landscape. Shaping it, forever changing it, but leaving here and there the record, and the mark.

There’s life everywhere and the tracks we make are shared and crossed by the paths of others, who know this world better than we do.

Travis Elborough & Bob Stanley, How We Used To Live

Tribe Icons only

TribevTribe is a game uses the town itself as the board, and is played not in three dimensions, but in four. It’s a game which celebrates Margate’s place as a home to youth culture, and lays that past over the present townscape.

Players move through the town, and in and out of history, winning points by completing simple challenges, finding clues or building their tribe. As they play they win points for their tribe; Mods, Rockers, Hippies, Punk and Ravers. The Isle of Thanet, which history tells us is the correct place to land if you want to conquer Britain, will be conquered again as each tribe wins and loses territory in the four weeks the game is being played.

TribevTribe has been created by Dan Thompson, a social artist whose work is about mapping, public space, towns as places to play, and social history. It’s been commissioned by Marine Studios, who are behind the GEEK festival, which brings play, art and technology together. It forms part of the Tribes Festival. TribevTribe is funded by Kent County Council and the Tribes Festival.

The Red Chair

Great theatre gets inside you, and leaves its shadows across the world when you look at it afterwards.

David Glass Ensemble’s production of Gormenghast, which I probably saw more than 20 years ago, had that effect. The world looked different afterwards. Darker, more shadowed, layered. It still does. Theatre De Complicite did the same to me. So did the work of Bruce Gilchrist.

When I watched the preview of Clod Ensemble’s new show The Red Chair, I had a similar feeling. Like David Glass Ensemble and Complicite, the show conjures a dark, twisted world and tells a long tale on stage.

But while David Glass and Complicite rely on a whole company, The Red Chair creates that intensity with just one actor on stage.

Sarah Cameron wrote The Red Chair and performs it. It’s two hours long. It’s an intense, physical experience, for her and for the audience – there’s no interval, no respite. Cameron makes a decaying household from words and once she’s created that place she tells the story of a man who eats and eats until he becomes swallowed by the chair he was sitting in, and the story of his wife who feeds him, and the story of their forgotten child. She drags you through a Grim(ms) Fairytale, full of lush lyrical language and tumbling poetry.

The world she creates looks, I think, a little like this:

Follow Dan Thompson’s board Red Chair on Pinterest.

The set doesn’t: it’s just Cameron, a chalk circle to contain the things she conjures, and a wooden chair. There’s a shot of whisky and some chocolate for the audience. They only reinforce the sense that this is some dark mass, some strange ritual.

The Red Chair is coming to Margate. Go, and I promise you won’t ever forget it.

 

 

 

Ed Vaizey on the UK games sector

On the outside Games Expo East Kent (known for fairly obvious reasons as GEEK) is a fairly straightforward games expo, with thousands of people descending on Margate’s Winter Gardens this weekend to play retro video games and find out about the latest in computer gaming. But underneath that is a serious purpose, to look at the place of digital in a town like Margate. If GEEK proves anything, it’s that digital today is all about a little bit of chaos, a lot of collaboration, endless crossovers and constant innovation. I edited the GEEK Gazette this year, a free paper distributed across the area, and asked guest writers to contribute. Here’s what Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, wrote:

Ed Vaizey at Turner Contemporary, Margate  © Robert Canis
Ed Vaizey at Turner Contemporary, Margate
© Robert Canis

The digital landscape of the UK is undergoing a period of tremendous change, a transformation that I believe is vital for the economic growth of our country. Government and local authorities are investing £1.7 billion to help bring superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017 – to enhance the connectivity and digital capabilities of our homes and businesses.

An improved digital infrastructure will help drive the growth of business within our creative industries, and particularly the video games sector. We recognise the incredible contribution that video gaming makes to our economy and are determined to do all we can to support its continued growth.

That is why we introduced the video gaming tax relief. Industry estimates it could be worth up to £25 million per year for the sector. We are also invested in the development of up and coming talent. Through collaboration with Creative Skillset our funding for the Skills Investment Fund is widening access to industry-led training. We have already seen a positive impact with the Fund helping to place over 100 trainees in 67 games companies.

The UK games sector generates £2bn in global sales and contributes almost £1bn to national GDP. We cannot underestimate the importance of this industry. The UK is a great training ground for the developers, animators and programmers of the future. We are attracting overseas investment and industry figures show that our games studios already employ over 9,000 creative staff, whilst indirectly supporting close over 16,000 jobs.

Within the video gaming world, the UK is renowned for its talent, creativity and the innovation of its products. We can boast of the creation of many world-beating games, such as Elite, Lemmings, Tomb Raider, LittleBigPlanet and Moshi Monsters.

This sector is a shining example of the UK’s strength in innovation and creativity and it is great to see video gaming claiming the recognition it deserves. The UK is already home to the largest games development community in Europe. Together with industry, we will continue to strengthen our position on the world’s stage, ensuring more and more globally successful games will be conceived, developed and produced right here in the UK.

Ed Vaizey MP

Margate Is…

Margate is facing away from England. Margate is where Britain began. Margate is Anglo and Saxon and Roman and Celtic and English and European. Margate is always continental, never Little England.

P1160328Margate is made for Down-From-Londons, bearded faux-bohemians, hipsters and artists and has been since 1730. Margate is sea bathing, sex and sand. Margate is cheap and brash and elegant and high-end. Margate is old and Margate is new. Margate is a dirty ageing tart with new earrings. Margate is where contradictions contradict themselves until everything makes sense.

Margate is where England swung. Margate is where mods fought rockers. Margate is where it all kicks off. Margate is never crossing at the lights. Margate is where friendships are made and comradeships forged. Margate is where old people come for bungalows and young people come for cheap property and Eastern Europeans come to learn to be English and where UKIP come to die.

Margate is on an island. Margate is defined by lost rivers. Margate is chalk and concrete. Margate is beaches of sand and seagreen bottle glass and old Stoke pottery smoothed by saltwater.

Margate is the second oldest theatre in the country, and the smallest. Margate is a derelict Dreamland and big plans. Margate is the ball that rises once on a clocktower. Margate is a David Chipperfield building without a front door. Margate is an abandoned tidal pool that people swim in anyway. Margate is a cave covered in shells to worship the Sacred Duck.

Margate is TS Eliot and Chas & Dave. Margate is Tracey Emin and Tom Swift. Margate is Dean Thatcher and Dinsdale Landen. Margate is The Beatles at the Winter Gardens and John Le Mesurier & Hattie Jacques at Albion Lodge. Margate is Karl Marx on holiday.

Margate is Retro and Margate is looking towards tomorrow. Margate is then and now, and Margate is dreaming of England’s future.

Written for the Swifty’s Sunday Social fanzine, and first published there.

#mymargate

In the in 18 months since moving to Margate, I’ve been to more theatre than in the 15 years before that, when I was living in Worthing. I’ve been spoiled – drowning in a sea of good shows, great performances, interesting interventions across the town. I’ve seen Steven Berkoff, an army of mysterious Red Ladies spreading across the town, a crazed sequel to The Tempest, shows about explorers alone in a hut somewhere and the workers in the huts at Bletchley Park. I’ve experienced 366 Days of Kindness which had a bit of me in it, watched The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Reduced), spent an evening with John Cooper Clarke, and seen the rebirth of repertory in Paines Plough’s Roundabout. One good thing after another, more than I can see (I kick myself for the things that I’ve missed). The programming by the Theatre Royal has been to theatre what Turner Contemporary’s shows have been to the visual arts.

So now, in a small way, I’m returning to theatre, which is where my career in the arts started. I’m helping to bring new people to see a series of shows, as part of Fuel’s  New Theatre In Your Neighbourhood project, funded by Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The next show as part of that programme is Feral In Margate.

Feral combines puppetry, film, digital technology and live sound to create and destroy a world in front
 of its audience’s eyes. Joe looks back at the town of his childhood. Bright, vibrant and idyllic the world resembles a haven of comfort. But as the walls are peeled back, the story of a community’s fall unfolds around him.

Feral seamlessly blends film and live performance. Puppeteers manipulate and bring to life a tiny world, while simultaneously creating a live animation, as they follow its every breath via a digital camera.

The show is being remade for Margate, and to build on that, we’re asking people to film their favourite Margate place, and upload it with the #mymargate hashtag. Nothing fancy: I shot my contribution on my phone, in less than three minutes. All entrants’ films will be screened before the Feral in Margateperformance on Friday 13th March and the winner will receive a bespoke puppet from the show, a piece of the set and a £50 John Lewis Voucher

Swifty’s Sunday Social, 20 years ago

P1160328It’s odd, looking back and realising that the summer of 2014 was 20 years ago. We were just having fun in a battered seaside town and I don’t think any of us considered that what we were doing would have such an impact. We weren’t a gang, and never called ourselves Imaginists back then. What we were doing wasn’t a conscious attempt to shape the future, even if we did all secretly believe we could change the world. But Margate was burning bright in 2014. There had been months of great theatre, incredible art happenings, a buzz in the national media (newspapers, back then – newspapers!)

It really came together on a Sunday afternoon at the sleepy end of that summer; Swift hadn’t had even one platinum album then, there was little to suggest he’d win the Turner Prize twice, and the idea that there’d be a room dedicated to him in Margate’s Imaginist Centre was faintly ridiculous. He was Tom Swift, not Swift; he hadn’t become, like Madonna, somebody known by a single name. He was just oddball painter Tom Swift, a lanky, awkward character with an eye on the main chance, fingers in some odd pies, a hatful of ideas, a neat line in drippy paintings. And, in Caspar, a mentor.

Yes, that Caspar – he was charismatic even then, but we didn’t realise how dangerous his religious quackery would become. I’m not sure then he even believed in the Sacred Duck; it was just an in joke. I think after Apple introduced the smart drugs, they started to alter the world around him, and he believed the coincidences and chances meant something. If we had known how far he’d take it, well; we’d have pushed him off the harbour arm, the Thames Barrier wouldn’t have been damaged so badly by that ridiculous Rubber Duck, and London wouldn’t have flooded.

P1160550Anyway – together Swift and Caspar and me cooked up the plan for Swifty’s Sunday Social at the Black Cat Club. Not the one you can visit now, of course – that’s a shameless cash-in, a Disneyfied version of where we hung out. It’s not even in the same place. There never was a Black Cat at the Imaginist Centre on the seafront. Back then it was an art gallery called Turner Contemporary, and that summer it was exhibiting work by Jeremy Deller. Forgotten now, but back then he was the big star, not us. Today’s Black Cat at the Imaginist Centre is just an imitation, as authentic as The Cavern in Liverpool, but it’s made Keith Roberts rich and famous. When I watch him on the panel of England’s Got Talent, I can’t help but remember the Gabicci-wearing, quiffed, suited and booted wideboy he was back then. He hasn’t really changed much, has he?

Our Black Cat, back then, was across the road; it’s the toilets of Starbucks now – I know, tiny. It was a proper underground club, sweat dripping from the ceiling and the walls sticky. It was where Swifty’s Sunday Social started, and my own Face Up! too. That was just supposed to be a one-off night, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Mods vs Rockers battles in Margate in 1964. I never saw Face Up! becoming the brand it has become, and every one of our coffee shops around the world has a little bit of the Black Cat spirit, every item of clothing in our shops is inspired by what people were wearing in Margate back then, every disc and download in our record shops could have graced the turntables that year. But I digress; the first Swifty’s Sunday Social, all those Sundays ago, is what I’m writing about.

It was a good afternoon. There was a DJ, a local vicar called Emmet Keane (remember, there was still a Church of England back then!), playing reggae and dub; and Helen Seymour performed her poetry. She was an interesting character; slight and hauntingly beautiful, magic eyes, slightly awkward as we all were, slipping rhymes and interesting images into rambling stories. I saw the spark in her, but still can’t believe she’s the same person who wrote that poem for the old Queen’s funeral, let alone that her brief affair with a prince that started at the funeral could topple the monarchy.

P1160510And there was a Simon Williams film projected on the wall, too. I know, I know, it seems unlikely – a Turner Prize winner, the Poet Laureate, a ten-times Oscar winner, a TV superstar, the Prime Minister and me all in the one place, on one Sunday afternoon, but it’s true. It really happened. Simon’s film was a precursor to ‘365’, that won him that first Oscar. It was a black and white film (timelapse, of course, could it be anything else, from him?) shot from Arlington House, which wasn’t the swanky, gated place it’s become. Back then it was just a towerblock, Margate just a seaside town.

The crowd that Sunday afternoon was full of good, interesting people, too. Joe Brown was there; he was a shopkeeper, ran a junk shop with Kelly. He hadn’t become a politician then, had no ambitions to become Prime Minister. Really! Back then, people were career politicians, not people like Joe who just rose from nowhere. There were photographers, and writers, and painters, and dancers, and shopkeepers out that afternoon. The Breuer and Dawson boys, before they hosted their TV makeover series, before Breuer and Dawson was just a chain store. IndustroChic wasn’t a thing back then. A good crowd, for a rainy Sunday afternoon, but not as many people as have said they were there; we’d never have fitted everyone that said they were at the first one into that tiny room. I remember Simon saying we needed ten more people to make it feel busy; Caspar wanted fifty more. There was room for ten, room for fifty, and there weren’t queues around the block back then for anything Swift did.

I guess it’s that weekend that changed it all, really; that made it clear we had a scene. I know the Black Cat is compared to Warhol’s Factory, and while that’s a lazy comparison there’s something in it. The atmosphere maybe, that bottled sense of excitement, that belief that we could take on the world and win, that buttoned-down madness – but the impact of the Imaginists has been so much bigger, deeper, wider. It all started one Sunday, and nothing’s been quite the same since.

Margate, November 2034

After going slightly insane discovering connections between Tom Swift, Paul Hazelton, Caspar the Art Oracle, The Shell Grotto and an ancient religious cult, I came across this text typed up and stuck in a scrapbook. It’s obviously a more recent transcription of an older document, although I can’t find the original on the internet.

“Nunquam aliud Natura, aliud Sapientia, dicit.”—Juvenal xiv. 321

The Mystical Sciences, followed out to their fullest extent, are of the noblest subjects to which human minds can give themselves. Beyond the measure, rule, balance and compass, and past the line of the pencil: these are the sciences of the mind, more than the mere observations of the eye.

There is a particular and refined beauty and majesty in the Mystical Sciences when applied to the constructions of man, which pleases certain prejudices and preconceptions of the eye, and inspires and informs such trains of meditation in the mind as to show the true beauty of nature. The peculiarity of the Mystical Sciences applied to the Poetry of Architecture which will be found most interesting is that they trace the distinctive characteristics of the nations of the world.

The ancient Shell Temple at Margate is one such construction, and it is clearly the work of refined architects who understand the sacred geometries and the mathematics of the planets, as it aligns once yearly with certain astral configurations – but the Mystical Sciences behind the edifice are considered by many to be long lost, belonging to some ancient configuration of religions and beliefs. The general public, and I say it with sorrow born from observation, have little to do with the encouragement or consideration of purpose, and substitute spectacle for beauty and understanding.

If such members of the public as make their way to the Shell Temple were to study the measure of the arch, the circle and the serpentine passage they would trace the distinctive patterns of the Poetry of Architecture found in antiquity of the Ancient Romano temples, with an adaptation to the situation and climate in which it has been constructed, betraying that the prevailing turn of mind at the time of such construction was towards the worship of the Sacra Anatis. The intricacies of the construction and the peculiarity of the shells turned inwards to provide particular acoustical properties are found only in temples to this arcane and ancient belief (which considers that the noise of Sacra Anatis is unheard by the Oread Echo), which is known to have spread from great minds of the Oriental scholars to the Mediterranean and the ancient Roman philosophers, hence arriving in Briton on the Island of Thanet.

This temple once stood on the banks for a river, and the flow of the river would be part of the proportioned whole: The Shell Temple must not be seen all at once; and he who reaches one end should feel that, as he can arrive at no conclusion other than he has been on a sacred journey, he is now impressed with a feeling of a universal energy, pervading with its beauty all life and all inanimation.

While the belief in Sacra Anatis is at deliciously low ebb in Great Britain today, the arrival of the Italian brethren into our expanding cities, to provide such excellent skills as brickmaking and fine work in our manufactories, may yet see a return of this belief. And what is the consequence? The return of Sacra Anatis, at a time of revolutionary change and given the fullest considerations of the industrial mind, driven by steam, the manufactories and the advance of mass production with aesthetic consideration, and the iron rail and steamship to spread such understanding across the Mother Country and the Empire, should yet be wondered at.

JR, Margate, January 1874

Thanet Press plans refused

TP1It was a bit of an honour to be asked to speak at Thanet District Council’s planning committee last night. I was there on behalf of our local residents, asking the council to turn down plans for a large site on the road where I live. The former Thanet Press works is a lovely jumble of buildings from the earlier Bobby & Co, the first Victorian printers on the site, up to 1950s modernist blocks built when Thanet Press was part of the publisher Eyre & Spotiswoode. I’ve written about the history of the site previously. The plans are to replace this with two large blocks of flats, one storey higher than the surrounding terraces and over twice the height of any buildings currently on the site. The current facade, a pleasing jumble of buildings in different styles, would become one big, uniform building – a tower block laid on it’s side and dressed in an amateur dramatic company’s version of a Georgian costume.

Our ward councillor, Iris Johnston, had called for the plans to be seen by the full committee, after planning, traffic and conservation officers all recommended refusal. And Iris spoke on behalf of the developers last night, who she confirmed she’d had a number of meetings with. She reinforced her credentials as a supporter of the Armed Forces, and suggested that the 64 one and two bed flats to be crammed into the site might be ‘Homes For Heroes’ (there’s no evidence that this is the plan). Iris was taking a brave stand, speaking out against 34 of her constituents, the Resident’s Association in her ward, the town’s Conservation Area Advisory Group, and the council’s own officers, who’d all objected to the plans – not one local had written in support of them. Iris asked for any decision to be deferred, to allow a site visit to the collection of buildings which are just across the road from the council’s offices.

TP2Thankfully, councillors disagreed with her, with Cllr. Clive Hart pointing out that he’d walked past the site at least a thousand times. The plans were refused unanimously, fourteen committee votes against them.

Here’s what I said last night:

Good evening Chair and members; my name is Dan Thompson. I am a Union Crescent resident  and am speaking on behalf of the Hawley Square Residents Association.

We urge committee members to refuse this application for all the reasons raised by Planning Officers. Residents would like to draw attention to 4 points:

1. Density
Margate Central is already densely populated, and is one of the most deprived areas in the UK with a high concentration of small flats. Existing houses in Union Crescent are split into as many as six flats.
The small flats attract a transient population, which causes problems which the council’s planning department, the Margate Task Force and our ward councillor are aware of.

The housing strategy says we have too many small flats and not enough family houses – a fact highlighted when we moved here, from Worthing, and struggled to find a family home to rent. This scheme proposes 64, 1 and 2-bed flats. This is completely against policy. Instead of addressing a need, this development would make a problem situation, worse. Cllr Hayton spoke earlier about cramming – this is cramming on a massive scale.

2. Highways
These additional flats with 1 parking space will be harmful to the amenity of all neighbours, and is against policy D1.
The strain on street parking and pedestrian movement highlighted in the officer’s report is increased by large numbers driving in from elsewhere and using the mosque, churches and the Theatre Royal. And this in a road already busy with buses and delivery lorries. We are particularly concerned about the problem of crossing at the top of Pump Lane and note the Highways Officer’s concerns about crossings for those with impaired mobility.

3. Heritage
Union Crescent is in a Conservation area. It is lined with a variety of fine buildings, many grade II listed.
The collection of industrial buildings that form Thanet Press are unique and tell the story of earlier prinetsr on this site and of a nationally-important company, founded in 1770, printing everything from bibles to Royal Wedding invitations and exam papers. Policy says these buildings should be protected or enhanced. Wiping out this history would be harmful to the Conservation Area.

The massive block of flats proposed would be overbearing and even more harmful to Union Crescent,  Princes Street and its Listed neighbours.

Demolition and redevelopment is only permitted if it would enhance the Conservation area. This does not enhance the area, and should be refused because it is against national policy and local policy D1.

The existing buildings can adapted and re-used. Their heritage celebrated. Other developers do this –The Vinyl Factory in West London, Butler’s Wharf on the Thames and Circus Street Market in Brighton are all premium developments because of their history.

There is no evidence of any attempt to preserve these buildings and people like me, who’ve approached the agents, have never had a reply, or have been told the site is unavailable.

4. Employment
Which leads to my final point; employment. Thanet Press at one time provided employment for 300 people. While the economy has changed, there is still a need for employment in the area, which has above average unemployment.

At the same time, businesses like mine are unable to find suitable premises and creative studios and coworking spaces across the town – of which there are a remarkably high number – are all at capacity.
No other site in Margate lends itself so well to a mixed ecology of studios, offices, spaces for small-scale manufacture, live-work units – all with an excellent street-facing façade and just a minute from the old town which is also at full capacity. This is in line with both local and national policy.

Thanet Press boarded up is a problem; but opened up by good development and new use, this could be the biggest opportunity Margate has to embed the emerging creative economy in the town centre.

Thank you.

nb The above is taken from my notes and is not a transcript of what was said so may vary slightly from any recording.

Caspar the Art Oracle and the Sacred Duck

For A Fete Worse Than Death, artists Tom Swift and Paul Hazelton got a gang together. Meeting in an ice cream parlour in Tom’s hometown of Ramsgate (out of the eyes of Margate’s art cognoscenti) the boys (and one girl) planned one perfect job, never to be repeated. De-In-Stall is a joint collaboration between Tom and dust artist Paul Hazelton featuring pop music video director Simon Williams, artist Steve McPherson, colour poet Emrys Plant, musician Steve Graham, and seamstress Beth Anderson. They ended up being joined by the ice cream shop owner, a reclusive ex-millionaire called Caspar (who once owned Gillingham Town FC), who dispensed advice to visitors.

To move from running an ice cream parlour to mixing with the art elite in a short space of time seems like an unlikely career arc. So just who is Caspar the Art Oracle? Ahead of this week’s Art Car Boot Fair in Folkestone (at which he may or may not appear) I’ve done some digging. Here’s his voice, on the trailer for a new De-In-Stall motivational film by Swift and Hazelton:

He certainly sounds like an interesting character; a guru, passing on knowledge, giving insight into the world. So what’s his role in Swift and Hazelton’s artistic practice? Notice that accompanying Caspar’s voice is an image of a duck – not a realistic duck, more an icon.

BvEhvN4CEAAbrFOSome images of the work that Swift and Hazelton have produced for the Art Car Boot Fair have been leaked on social media.

At the last De-In-Stall, Caspar the Art Oracle appeared with slicked-back hair, a duck’s bill mask and a rapid-fire patter. So these leaked images appear to show bizarre effigies of Caspar the Art Oracle, tattooed dolls with silvered duck heads and giant hands. They appear to be constructed in a ritual way, with three artists working to produce the various parts, and to have similarities to the Greek Kolossos tradition.

So – what’s the significance of the duck? Historically, the Sacred Duck appears in Tibetan folk stories (such as ‘How the sacred duck got his yellow breast’). It is also one of the spirit helpers of the Siberian Shaman.

In the 20th century we find it in Hans Gál’s opera Die Heilige Ente or The Sacred Duck, which premiered in Düsseldorf in 1923.

The title is as farcical as the opera: Chinese gods, fed up with perpetual worship and the smell of incense descend into an opium den where, as a distraction, they swap the brains of various miscreants. A duck, historically a theatrical tool used as a symbol for the ridiculous, is a by-product of the farce and ultimately leads to a happy end. There are no recordings of this work.

In 1938, Hans Gál fled to Great Britain, and after internment as an enemy alien, he settled in Edinburgh, where he taught at the University. He became a much respected member of the Edinburgh musical scene and was one of the founders of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Edinburgh is of course well-known for the Italian community who settled there – and for the ice cream parlours they opened there from the 1920s onwards. And one of the few facts we know about Caspar the Art Oracle is that he is the owner of an ice cream parlour in Ramsgate.

So it’s possible that there’s a connection between the Italian communities in Edinburgh and Ramsgate, and that connects the older Hans Gál and the younger Caspar the Art Oracle. Was the recipe for a good ice cream the only thing that was passed down?

The other connection worth exploring is in Celtic mythology. There we find Sequanna who was a Celtic river goddess, and her sacred animal was the duck.

Both Swift and Hazelton are Margate residents, and in this town on the Isle of Thanet, water is very important. As well as the River Wanstum which cut the Isle of Thanet off from mainland Britain, a lost river flows through the centre of Margate. It’s easy to track; it follows the line of King Street and Dane Road through the town centre.

SHell Grotto

Just off this line is the mysterious Shell Grotto. This would have stood on the banks of the river. The Shell Grotto’s underground labyrinth was discovered in 1835, we’re told, by somebody digging a duck pond! Obviously it was already known, and this tall tale is an in-joke for the initiated.

The Shell Grotto is either Celtic or Romano in origin. It’s an  underground temple, with a serpentine passage suggesting that activity in this site was connected with the flow of water. Hazelton has produced and exhibited work in the Shell Grotto as their artist-in-residence. As such, he’s almost certainly been inducted into the secret cult around the temple.

So we’re left with an intriguing possibility – a series of connections between Hans Gál, Hazelton, Swift, Sequanna, the Sacred Duck, and the mysterious Caspar. Are the De-In-Stall artists modern-day custodians of the tradition of Sequanna and her Sacred Duck, a secret knowledge passed to them by Caspar the Art Oracle, who received the knowledge from his teacher Hans Gál, and kept alive at the ancient Shell Grotto where it was passed from Celtic to Romano ownership? It’ll be worth watching future De-In-Stall events for more clues.

Council crush community

ImageOne of the things that most inspired me about Margate was the community-built skatepark on the abandoned Little Oasis Crazy Golf course.

The skatepark was built on a small corner, a former remote control car track. Built by people who knew what they were doing, it had proper poured concrete ramps and othe features.

It cleared a plot used for flytipping and covered in rubbish.

And brought people together – English and Eastern European, young and old worked together, played together, invested time and effort together. Collectively they made the area feel safer, feel cleaner and feel happier.

This morning at 6am, protected by Kent Police, Thanet Council contractors moved onto the site, demolished everything, and broke up the tarmac base. One corner of Cliftonville feels less safe, less clean and less happy.

Badges

I’ve always liked badges – my childhood is defined by a Shaftesbury Playhouse badge from a holiday, a Clark’s Commando badge given with new shoes, a Warlord badge for being one of Peter Flint‘s secret agents, a Tufty Club road safety badge. The best bands gave me badges, too – Blur gave me an enamelled Mallard steam train when I crewed for them circa Modern Life Is Rubbish, Spitfire‘s liberated World of Sport logo was like a shibboleth amongst indie musicians, S*M*A*S*H‘s new wave aesthetic was complemented by the badge on the jacket.

So the first bit of serious kit Revolutionary Arts acquired was a badge machine, and since then many projects have been marked with a badge.

Six up

 

Badges, clockwise from top left:

Bedford Happy: round 38mm badges for distribution at workshops, and square badges to mark participation in (for example) the mail art call.

Made in Worthing: an arts festival, commissioning new work for the town, which ran for three years.

Dreamland Margate: Limited edition pair of badges for the first hundred people at an open afternoon on the derelict site.

We Will gather Cashmob; the online volunteering platform was used to boost the cashmob craze, where a mob of people turn up at a local shop armed with a fiver to spend. Badges distributed at more than a dozen events around the UK.

I’m a Dreamland Volunteer: large handmade badges for volunteers at the Dreamland open afternoon, to mark volunteers – an edition of 40.

#KYOKent: an unfolding mystery, inspired by a locked trunk found in a Margate junk shop.

I’m currently working on more designs for Bedford Happy, and a limited edition four-badge pack of designs inspired by some of my favourite places in Margate.

2012 – trains, boats and planes

London 2012The year started in spectacular style, standing on the roof of BBC’s Bush House, broadcasting on the world service, and watch the most incredible firework display London has ever seen. And it didn’t really slow down after that.

I’ve visited London (forty times), Brighton (sixteen times), Enfield (five times), Chichester (three times), and Bedford, Coventry, Guildford, Leeds, Lewes, Littlehampton, Manchester, Margate, Portsmouth, Rochdale (all twice). Add time in Amsterdam, Bexley, Eastbourne, Halifax, the Isle of Wight, Rotterdam, Salford, Shoreham, Southampton, Streatham and Stresa in Italy and it’s been a good year for travelling.

I’ve been out of Worthing on 105 days in 2012. That’s trains, boats and planes all covered. I’ve stayed in hotels that are amazing in Stresa and Margate, appalling in Leeds, and lots that are completely forgettable (Travelodge, Premier Inn and the like).

I’ve been to eco-build BedZed, spent a day on a coach trip around the M25, held a birthday party to celebrate 150 years of Worthing Pier, attended the opening of the London 2012 Olympics in a VIP seat as a guest of the Prime Minister, and been to my first football match since the early 1980s (Team GB women, in Coventry. They lost).

I’ve been on the news a few times, in the papers quite a lot, and made a brief appearance on the Antique’s Roadshow with a shepherd’s smock.

I’ve written the introduction to a book for The Caravan Gallery, published Pop Up People, and in sixteen days writing I wrote Pop Up Business For Dummies. I’ve talked about town centres and empty shops a lot, opened pop up shops in Brighton and Enfield with Retail Ready People, launched #wewillgather in the Houses of Parliament, and talked about agile working, frugal leadership, social media for social good and community organising.

Everywhere I’ve been, it’s as the guest of people doing amazing and inspiring things to make the places they live better. Thank you all for inviting me.