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Turner Contemporary has been awarded significant funding from Arts Council England to create a series of new artworks to showcase the South East’s extraordinary cultural offer and increase the number of international and domestic tourists visiting the region.

The award-winning gallery has received £500,000 from Arts Council England’s £3.28 million Cultural Destinations programme for a pioneering new cultural tourism project.

Building on the Creative Coast’s world-class cultural offer, the South East’s outstanding art galleries will come together with leading artists and tourism businesses to create a unique new cultural ‘treasure hunt’ trail to tempt visitors to the region. The trail combines original new artwork commissions by internationally renowned artists, geocaching GPS technology, new bookable itineraries and an artist-led accommodation offer.

Turner Contemporary will lead the project with Visit Kent (Go To Places), who have been awarded £350,000 for the project from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund, administered by VisitEngland.

This is the first time the gallery will commission leading UK and international artists to create artworks across the whole of the South East region, with the aim to mobilise visitors across the Creative Coast. Turner Contemporary will work with partners Creative Foundation, De La Warr Pavilion, Jerwood Gallery, Metal, Towner Art Gallery and Whitstable Biennale on the project.

Director of Turner Contemporary Victoria Pomery OBE said:
“We’re delighted to have secured Culture Destinations funding. By truly putting arts and culture at the core of the project, we aim to create a unique, cohesive visitor offer which celebrates our distinctive coastline and significantly grows the visitor economy for the region.This ambitious project will create an experiential trail, relevant to key markets, through digital technologies and partnerships across the South East.”

Targeted at French and Dutch tourists and UK visitors, the project will create a new digital foot, cycle and train trail through Essex, Kent and East Sussex. Along the route, visitors will be able to find the new original artworks and log treasure containers - ‘geocaches’. They will be able to book experiences in each of the destinations such as tours and artists talks, and the project will trial a new accommodation offer, allowing visitors to visit and stay in artists’ homes and studios.

The investment follows the successful Cultural Destinations programme 1 project Culture Kent. This three-year project brought cultural and tourism organisations together to reposition Kent as the UK’s creative county, through a series of pilot events and artworks. In-depth research undertaken as part of the project has revealed that cultural tourists to Kent have a higher propensity to visit for longer than ‘regular’ tourists, generating more spend for the local economy.

Sarah Dance, Project Director said:
“The Culture Kent project was just the starting point for our cultural tourism ambitions to increase visitors to the South East. We know that in order to become a really successful ‘cultural destination’ we need to be a networked area, delivering a total experience to visitors that helps them understand a location and its people, through history and contemporary culture. So this investment gives us the opportunity to really create something special, giving visitors a completely new, connected experience, and presenting the South East as a truly unmissable cultural destination.”

The trail route will include the Thames Estuary, Whitstable, Margate, Folkestone, Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne, showcasing some of the most dramatic coastal scenery and creating a unique and immersive cultural experience for all, and building on the Coastal Culture Trail that invites visitors to travel along the East Sussex coast between Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne, De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill and Jerwood Gallery Hastings.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, Chief Executive Visit Kent (Go to Places) said:

“We are thrilled that we have the chance to work with our partners at Turner Contemporary to bring this exciting cultural project to life. More than 44% of visitors to Britain in 2016 stated ‘cultural attractions’ were their main motivator for choosing Britain as a holiday destination, and visits to museums and art galleries accounted for £889m of visitor spend that year alone. Our goal is to inspire international visitors who are interested in cultural adventures to go out and explore our coastline, and discover new art installations, stunning galleries and incredible characters and communities on the way.”

Turner Contemporary will lead on the delivery of the project’s arts content, including the new artworks, while Visit Kent (Go to Places) will lead on building and marketing the project’s tourism offer.

The project has also secured significant investment from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), East Sussex County Council and Kent County Council.

The three-year project will grow the visitor economy by 2020, showing how new initiatives and a networked cultural destination can increase tourism across the South East.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said:
“Some of our country’s most exciting and innovative arts and cultural organisations are located along the south east’s coastline, each playing an important role in the future success of their local towns. This project will strengthen this even further, enabling these organisations to forge new partnerships and create a more compelling and joined-up offer that increases tourism in the region. I am excited for what this project means for our coastal areas, not just in terms of reaching new audiences, but also for how it will contribute to the region’s economy, reputation and sense of pride.”

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“The calibre of submissions to the Discover England Fund reflects the innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape. The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England. This project will harness the enthusiasm of art loving visitors with an imaginative offer than will feed their interest in art and encourage them to explore our coast out of season.”

Adam Bryan, Managing Director, SELEP said:
“The creative and cultural industries are a critical part of the South East economy. This has been acknowledged by SELEP in previous and new strategic plans and we expect to play our part in creating the conditions for the sector to thrive. To that end, we are delighted to support this programme and look forward to seeing its successes.”

Councillor Rupert Simmons, Lead Member for Economy, East Sussex County Council said:
“East Sussex has a thriving visitor economy and we know that the main reasons people visit us is our landscape and because of our outstanding cultural offer. This new project will help us to showcase our offer further afield and attract more visitors to the county, growing the customer base for a range of businesses from accommodation, food and drink to the cultural organisations themselves. We are delighted to be part of this ambitious programme.”

Mr Michael Hill, Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, Kent County Council said:

“Kent County Council continues to invest in culture and the creative industries, appreciating the benefits this brings to our local economy and our communities. Culture is now a driving force in attracting visitors to Kent, generating significant economic growth. Over the last ten years we have enabled the production of pioneering and visionary creative activity and supported outstanding art. This new cultural tourism project builds on this solid foundation. Working with partners in East Sussex and Essex, the innovative art trail will add richness to our cultural offer, positioning our fantastic coastline as the UK’s Creative Coast.”


Notes to Editors

Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary is one of the UK’s leading art galleries.

The organisation was founded in 2001 to contextualise, celebrate, and build on the artist JMW Turner’s association with Margate, Kent. In 2011, Turner Contemporary gallery, designed by Sir David Chipperfield, opened, and has fast become a visitor attraction of national and international importance.

Situated on Margate seafront, on the same site where Turner stayed when visiting the town, Turner Contemporary presents a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions, events and learning opportunities which make intriguing links between historic and contemporary art. The gallery offers a space for everyone to discover different ways of seeing, thinking and learning.

Turner Contemporary has led the regeneration of Margate and East Kent, already welcoming over 2.6 million visits and contributing over £58 million into the local economy through tourism and inward investment. The vision of the organisation is Art Inspiring Change, using collaboration, learning, ambition and transformation to effect change, inspire new ways of working and for everyone to have access to world-class art.

  • In copy please refer to Turner Contemporary and not ‘The Turner Contemporary’
  • Gallery opening times: Closed on Mondays. Open Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 5pm (autumn/winter), 10am – 6pm (spring/summer)
  • Admission to the gallery is free
  • Address: Turner Contemporary, Rendezvous, Margate, CT9 1HG
  • Information: + 44 (0) 1843 233000,
  • Turner Contemporary is a charity, receiving public funding from Kent County Council and Arts Council England.

Go To Places

Go To Places is the only officially recognised organisation delivering destination management services across multiple counties and thematic campaigns in the UK.

Committed to improving quality and skills within the tourism industry, Go To Places has developed a unique destination management organisation (DMO) model, based on developing great locations through innovative marketing, public and private sector partnerships, and positively influencing the tourism industry. This includes offering expertise on funding bids, helping tourism and leisure businesses to better understand their market and audience, and sharing proven, effective marketing campaigns.

The Go To Places’ destination management model was developed by the Kent destination management organisation (DMO), Visit Kent, which was created in 2002. This model is now being effectively delivered through other portfolio businesses, such as Visit Herts (Hertfordshire), and thematic campaigns such as Big Weekend and Gardens & Gourmet.

Go To Places helps destinations grow through its unparalleled partnership network, marketing expertise, industry knowledge and influence. The team has extensive experience at local, regional and national levels of destination marketing, with its own consumer and corporate research team, business development departments, and in-house governance and bid writing experts.

Visit Kent
Visit Kent Ltd is the Destination Management Organisation for Kent (the Garden of England), welcoming 60million visitors a year, championing the county’s £3.6 billion tourism industry and supporting more than 72,000 jobs.

It is recognised as one of the country’s leading DMOs, targeting UK and overseas markets to raise Kent’s profile as a premier destination, improving quality and skills within the industry, and growing investment in tourism. Visit Kent is a public/private sector partnership supported by Kent County Council, Medway Council, district and borough councils, and the leading sector tourism businesses in Kent.

Cultural Destinations programme
Cultural Destinations is an initiative that was developed by the Arts Council England as a result of a three year partnership with VisitEngland, the national tourist board. It aims to increase the reach of those experiencing arts and culture, the sustainability of cultural organisations in local destinations, and to encourage the public and private sector to work together to support the growth of the local visitor economy. A total of £3.28million will be invested in 16 projects across England.

Culture and the visitor economy are intertwined. Cultural attractions, including theatres, art galleries, festivals and museums, attract visitors to a place. Their resulting spend not only helps to sustain these cultural venues and organisations, but also contributes to the local economy. And at the heart of it all is an ambition to ensure more people from all backgrounds experience the arts and culture.

The funding investment is part of a second round of Cultural Destination funding and follows the successful Cultural Destinations programme 1 project Culture Kent, which brought cultural and tourism organisations across Kent together to reposition Kent as the UK’s creative county, through a series of new programme pilots, the creation of an events data pool and in-depth perception research.

The research revealed that cultural tourists visit for longer than ‘regular’ tourists and led to a new definition of what a cultural destination is:

“The cultural destination is a networked space delivering a total experience to visitors that helps them understand a location and its people, through history and contemporary culture.” The full research can be found at

Arts Council England
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

Discover England fund
The £40 million Discover England Fund ( was launched in 2016 to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing tourism industry, with funds spread over three years. The Fund is administered by VisitEngland and involves a programme of activity to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry. The Fund is a central government funded programme of activity, supported by match funding by partners in the public and private sectors. Last year, Visit Kent successfully submitted a bid for the Year One (2016/17) funding pot and was awarded £240,000 for its Gardens & Gourmet project, in partnership with four other destinations.

About the Discover England Fund

  • In November 2015, the Government announced a £40 million Discover England Fund; an unprecedented opportunity for English tourism. The Fund aims to deliver world-class bookable tourism products joined up across geographies and/or themes; including integrated transport solutions to provide an end-to-end customer experience.
  • The Fund supports the growth of one of England’s most successful export industries, inbound tourism. Tourism is an industry that delivers jobs and economic growth across the English regions – contributing some £106bn each year to the economy and supporting 2.6 million jobs.
  • The Fund supported a number of pilot projects in year one (2016/17) that tested product development approaches.  In years two and three, 2017-19, the fund will support:
    • A number of large-scale collaborative projects to be delivered over the two year period 2017-2019 that will create a step-change in bookable English tourism product for international consumers,
    • A smaller funding pot for new one year pilot projects (in year two), and
    • Continuation funding for existing year one projects that demonstrated early learnings (in year two).

About VisitBritain/VisitEngland

  • VisitBritain/VisitEngland is the national tourism agency – a non-departmental public body funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)
  • Working with a wide range of partners in both the UK and overseas, our mission is to grow the volume and value of inbound tourism across the nations and regions of Britain and to develop world-class English tourism product to support our growth aspirations.
  • For further information and to access the latest in-depth market intelligence and statistics visit or and  for consumer information.

Creative Foundation

The Creative Foundation is an independent visionary arts charity dedicated to enabling the regeneration of Folkestone through creative activity. Working with the people of Folkestone, partners and other stakeholders, the Creative Foundation is transforming the town making it a better place to live, work, visit and study. Established in 2002, the Creative Foundation has a remarkable record of success having already transformed the old town of Folkestone, around the scenic harbour, into a Creative Quarter populated by artists and home to creative industries, a Sixth Form Centre and a university outpost. Over five hundred jobs have been created and ninety buildings have been restored in the Creative Quarter and the Quarterhouse, a performance venue for music, theatre, dance and comedy has been built. The area has been animated by four internationally acclaimed visual art Triennials; Folkestone Artworks is a significant and permanent contemporary art collection and an annual Book Festival.

Alastair Upton, Chief Executive of the Creative Foundation said:
“This project is a manifestation of the strength and quality of the visual arts ecology in Kent, Sussex and Essex and how it can become a catalyst to develop and further enhance the visitor economy. Pairing artists and world class art with new technologies and the welcoming people and communities of our counties can be an appealing proposition for tourists from the UK and abroad. The Creative Foundation has heavily contributed to the visitor economy in Folkestone and Shepway and we are now very pleased to be part of this regional project that aims to do the same in a way larger scale.”

De La Warr Pavilion
The De La Warr Pavilion is a pioneering centre for the arts; a place where everyone can experience culture and entertainment in a 1935 Modernist building in Bexhill on Sea. De La Warr Pavilion presents free exhibitions of work by contemporary and 20th century artists and designers, music, comedy, film, a dynamic programme of learning activities and outdoor events in a unique Grade One Listed building set against a back drop of the sea.

Stewart Drew, Director and CEO, De La Warr Pavilion said:

“With over 400,000 visitors a year the De La Warr Pavilion is one of the key destinations for cultural tourists in East Sussex. As one of the founder partners of the Coastal Culture Trail and Sussex Modern initiatives, we know that the contemporary traveller likes to curate their own tourism experiences combining culture with beautiful scenery, local food and drink and independent places to stay. The project is a fantastic opportunity to expand this idea across the South East coastline, growing visitors and contributing to the economy of the region. We are delighted to be involved in this exciting project.”

Jerwood Gallery

Jerwood Gallery opened to the public on 17 March 2012 as a not for profit organisation but became a charity in February 2017. The gallery (which has paid entry) welcomes 50,000 visitors each year, runs a variety of community engagement programmes and has a successful and oversubscribed volunteer scheme for sixty people. Designed by the architectural practice HAT Projects, the gallery houses the Jerwood Collection of modern and contemporary British art, along with a changing exhibitions programme. Previous exhibitions have showcased artists including Jake & Dinos Chapman, Sir Quentin Blake, Paula Rego, Marcus Harvey, Rose Wylie, Gillian Ayres, William Scott, Jeffery Camp, Keith Tyson, Ansel Krut, Chantal Joffe and Rachel Howard. Jerwood Gallery was awarded a Sussex Heritage Trust Public and Community Award and a Civic Trust Award in 2012 and in 2013 was awarded a National RIBA Award and reached the mid-list for the Stirling Prize for the Building of the Year. In 2014, it was awarded the RICS SE Regional Award for Regeneration. For around £35, you can become a Member of Jerwood Gallery and enjoy free admission throughout the year. Benefactors support the gallery with a donation of £400 per year and participate in special events and trips, as well as receiving all the benefits of Membership.

Liz Gilmore, Director, Jerwood Gallery said:
“There is such cultural richness along the south east coast and this project brings a wonderful opportunity to raise the profile of the experiences we offer, both to national and international visitors. Our experience of the Coastal Cultural Trail (from Towner in Eastbourne, to De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and through to Jerwood Gallery in Hastings) has shown us that coastal travel and fine art are a combination that is greatly enjoyed. We have benefitted hugely from partnerships with these galleries and look forward to developing new relationships with arts organisations in Kent and Essex.”

Metal was founded in London in 2002 by Jude Kelly CBE, working with current Artistic Director and CEO, Colette Bailey since its inception. It has been active in Liverpool since 2004, in Southend-on-Sea since 2007 and in Peterborough since 2012. In each place, we work from buildings of historic significance that we have transformed from empty or derelict spaces into vibrant cultural community hubs. From these bases, we work to provide the catalyst that can transform the potential of people and places through great art and inspiring ideas. Metal was highlighted as a case study in the DCMS Cultural White Paper, published March 2016.

Towner Art Gallery
Founded as an art gallery for the people, Towner Art Gallery presents exhibitions of national and international importance to audiences across the UK and beyond. Showcasing the most exciting developments in modern and contemporary art, Towner develops and supports artistic practice, and provides a place for experiencing, creating and discussing art and culture. The gallery welcomes over 150,000 visitors a year and collaborates with individuals, communities and organisations to deliver an inclusive and accessible associated public programme and learning offer. Their acclaimed Collection of nearly 5000 works is best known for its modern British art – including the largest and most significant body of work by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) – and a growing collection of international contemporary art. In 2014, Towner became an independent charitable Trust, supported by a Board of Trustees, chaired by David Dimbleby. Towner is supported by Eastbourne Borough Council and Arts Council England through its National Portfolio Programme.

Niamh Pearce, Acting Director, Towner Art Gallery said:
“As one of the three galleries that make up the Coastal Culture Trail in East Sussex, we have seen first-hand the fantastic benefits that partnerships between cultural organisations can have for tourism, the local business economy, and for an area’s residents and visitors. We’re excited to be working with new and existing partners on the project to attract even more visitors to our spectacular stretch of coastline.”

Whitstable Biennale
Whitstable Biennale is a festival of performance, film and sound, taking place every two years on the Kent coast. The event has grown out of Whitstable’s extensive artistic community and has developed an international reputation for commissioning early career artists and filmmakers to create ambitious and experimental new works, and engaging audiences in a rich and diverse programme. Whitstable Biennale is joining Arts Council England's National Portfolio as a new NPO for 2018-2022. The NPO commitment will enable the Biennale to consolidate and extend the organisation’s year-round work in east and north Kent, and to be even more ambitious in their support for artists to create experimental new work. 

Sue Jones, Director, Whitstable Biennale said:
"Whitstable Biennale is delighted to be working on this ambitious programme, working in partnership to create exciting new works for our audiences."

Read the full press release here.

Find out more information about this project here.


Posted by: Turner Contemporary on Fri 9 Feb 2018