Dover Arts Development

The Kentish Coast is often credited with being a hotbed of creativity and artistic flair, the national papers are quick to credit the likes of Margate, Deal and neighbours Folkestone as being havens of artists.


Often overlooked is Dover, which is brimming with creative endeavour. One sublime example of which is Dover Arts Development LTD affectionately known as DAD.


“We are committed to producing contemporary art of excellence, supporting artists’ practice, initiating cultural activity and feeding into Dover’s economy. We aim, with values of inclusiveness, thoughtful partnership and emotional responsibility, to strengthen communities and widen perspectives through creative thinking and actions.”


Dover Arts Development (DAD) is an artist-led not-for-profit limited company that functions as a collaborative, porous framework within which its artist directors conceive, manage and deliver ambitious projects of artistic excellence within the visual arts, poetry, writing, sound and music. Its founder directors are Clare Smith and Joanna Jones.


DAD advocates for and actively pursues a strategic role for the arts in placemaking, and for the benefits artists bring to Dover and the South East. As a cultural producer DAD acts as a catalyst for cultural/artistic activity, developing long-term relationships that nurture inclusive cultural partnerships, inspiring an arts and cultural approach to building community resilience and nurturing the talent in individuals. DAD connects and contributes through arts-led urbanism and lived practice to the lives of residents as well as visitors to Dover Town, Dover District, South East England, Europe and beyond.


DAD has no core funding and financially operates on a project-by-project basis, successfully bidding for funding for its work since 2008 from national, European and local bodies. DAD has in-depth experience of managing multi-stranded projects with an ever-expanding range of partners and artists, and bringing in over £1m of investment into Dover.


Since its founding in 2008 DAD has worked with approx. 200 artists and with a range of business partners including: Arts Council England, Kent County Council, Dover District Council, Dover Town Council, Dover Museum, Destination Dover, Dover Big Local, Port of Dover, DFDS Seaways, Eurotunnel, South Eastern, National Trust, English Heritage and many more.


CommunityAd had the pleasure of a chat with co-founder Joanna:


Why do you think it’s important that a community like Dover has access to the arts?

Dover has so much history and so many wonderful locations and people. Artists can tap into that history and re-present it as a living force in the present. Arts and Culture offer opportunities for reflection and participation. Dover Arts Development has consistently followed its vision and its artist-led approach has steadily informed the development of the cultural life of the town and contributed to Dover’s regeneration. Projects have engaged with the landscape, buildings and people of Dover in thoughtful and emotionally responsible ways.


Dover has many a creative resident; what do think it is about the place that inspires creativity?

I think it has to do with being on the edge. Dover is steeped in history but it remains spacious and open. Every creative person that I have met feels that there is space for them to develop something.


To stay up to date with the exhibitions, events and creative endeavours of Dover Arts Development head to the website or find this brilliant community asset on social media @DoverArtsDevt.

by Dave McKenna

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