Arts and culture bloom again in Gravesham

Arts and culture bloom again in Gravesham

Arts and culture bloom again in Gravesham

 Published: 10-May-2021

A new arts, culture and heritage centre and a host of cultural events and festivals will welcome people back to Gravesend as the town and Borough emerge from lockdown this summer.

The new St George’s Arts Centre in St George’s shopping centre has been made possible with the help of £323,204 of capital funding awarded from the Government’s Getting Building Fund allocated by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP). It will join the St Andrew’s centre as dual focal points in Gravesham, showcasing the council’s commitment to arts, culture and heritage in the Borough by supporting this centre in the years to come.

The centre piece of the summer will be Estuary 2021, a large-scale arts festival that celebrates the lives, landscapes and histories of the Thames Estuary.

Taking place from 22 May to 13 June, and taking in 107 miles of North Kent and South Essex coastline, the festival features contemporary artworks, discussion and events that explore and respond to powerful themes resonant to the estuary.

Highlights in Gravesend include Sadie Hennessy's Golden Years, a series of shop windows at St George's Shopping Centre featuring the collections of local people and the stories behind them, alongside a golden ice cream van playing people's favourite songs, (co-commissioned with Gravesham Borough Council).

Cohesion Plus's Identity, a downloadable audio work and online film features diverse local communities and looks at the multiple identities people hold.

Jasleen Kaur's The first thing I did was to kiss the ground, a sculpture and audio work, is being  installed at the Town Pier, while Bryony Gillard's Unctuous Between Fingers is showing at St Andrew's arts centre and explores an archive of pressed seaweeds and algae collected by women in the 1800s.

Marcus Coates' Our Time will hear the songs and calls of threatened local bird species emanating from Gravesend Clock Tower. Find out more estuaryfestival.com.

Running alongside Estuary 2021 is the Gravesham Estuary Fringe Festival.

Gravesham Arts Salon, a local informal arts group bringing together a variety of local artists and organisations, has encouraged artists and creatives across all genres throughout the Borough to be part of the fringe.

It includes work that has responded to the current situation in a sustainable and creative way, ranging from comedy to rap and poetry, to musical theatre, not to mention the multiple exhibitions by local artists and the daily Fringe TV broadcasts from Studio (Café) No84.

Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox, Gravesham Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Leisure, said the arts and cultural programme had a vital role to play in the recovery from the pandemic.

He said: “Studies show how arts and culture help develop cohesive and strong communities and that is more important than ever after a year when people have been forced to live in isolation from other human beings.

“Gravesham has always had a thriving arts sector and our recently launched arts and cultural strategy ‘A Creative Gravesham’ coupled with our regular Arts Grants to commission local art sets out how we are planning to reinforce and further develop the Borough’s reputation as a place where arts, heritage and culture are an integral part of our identity and reputation.”

Gravesend will be looking its best to welcome people back this summer thanks to Bloomin Lovely, a scheme of town centre dressing aimed at creating a bright, welcoming and vibrant atmosphere.

The town centre will be adorned with traditional summer flower planters, flags and bunting, with the newly launched Make It arts grants supporting local artists in some of the work from designing and painting benches and hoardings, to flower installations on gates and over arches

A carnival themed shop trail, scarecrow competition and flower themed market and workshops are also planned.

Cllr Mochrie-Cox added: “We have a range of activities and events planned across the summer of a size and scale that we are sure will help make people feel safe and comfortable as we work our way out of lockdown restrictions.

“We are so looking forward to welcoming people back and enjoying new and exciting cultural experiences around the Borough.”

For details of the summer’s events, visit https://www.woodville.co.uk or https://www.visitgravesend.co.uk or follow The Woodville and Visit Gravesend on Facebook and Twitter.

 Last updated: 10-May-2021

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