In Margate, as in much of the south east of England, an influx of artists has brought opportunities but also created tensions.

Priced out of London, many artists have moved to the area and a huge variety of studio spaces, galleries and artist-led projects have opened up.

But in a town with a small population, art can be a contentious subject. Assembly Margate, devised by a-n in collaboration with Margate-based social artist Dan Thompson, will in part respond to this context.

Taking place 4-5 May 2017, it will feature formal talks and workshops complemented by artist-led tours, a social night out, and opportunities for networking and discussions with fellow artists and the a-n team. It will be hosted across a number of arts spaces in the town.

All events are free unless otherwise stated but booking is required.

Curation, Crowdfunding and The Power in People

The programme gets underway with a seminar at Turner Contemporary , ‘The Curation Process (Or – How do I get them to exhibit my work?)’ (10am-12pm, 4 May) looking at how artists get selected to exhibit at major spaces and projects in the region, and how to ensure that artists are fairly treated when taking part in these programmes.

Turner Contemporary’s head of exhibitions Sarah Martin and Whitstable Biennale director Sue Jones will discuss their commissioning processes, while a-n’s director Jeanie Scott will introduce a-n and AIR’s Exhibition Payment Guidance and how it contributes to fair contracts and pay for artists exhibiting in publicly-funded galleries.

Dan Thompson will discuss the Artist-Led Manifesto which was launched alongside Exhibition Payment Guidance to take into consideration the different economies artist-led activities operate in.

The first day also includes a workshop led by artist Anna Francis that aims to create a manifesto for a ‘genuinely socially engaged practice’.

Taking place at artist-run space STAN Art Pod, ‘The Power in People’ (1.30-3pm, 4 May) will look at how artists working with local community groups can, through creative acts, uncover and support resources pertinent to that community. Francis will also discuss her socially engaged initiative, The Portland Inn Project.

Photography studio and creative space Fire Eye Land will be the venue for Hen Norton’s popular crowdfunding workshop ‘Demystifying crowdfunding and getting to know your audience better’ (1-5pm, 4 May; £5/£4 for a-n members ).

The day will wind down with the ‘Assembly Social’ at Cliffs coffee shop (7-9pm, 4 May) where artist-led organisations will map the services they offer and  Margate-based artists will be DJing.

How do artists change the places they live?

The focus of day two of Assembly Margate is the town’s many and varied artist-led spaces, and the artists who live in Margate and the surrounding area.

Led by artist and curator Julia Riddiough, ‘Artist-led Tour: A Walking Assembly’ (10am-12.45pm, 5 May) will explore the new Margate Art Cluster, revealing and celebrating Margate’s unique and thriving arts ecology and architecture. The tour includes Marine Studios, Crate, Limbo, Bon Volks, Clayspace and Resort.

Resort is also the venue for ‘Spaces and Places’ (3-5pm, 5 May), a debate focussing on how art and artists can be a force for good in a town like Margate, bringing benefits even to those who don’t think art is for them.

Speakers including Colette Bailey (Metal, Estuary Festival) and Kate Kneale (Marine Studios, GEEK festival) will share their approaches to engaging with their local communities before opening up the debate to the audience.

Another day two highlight is ‘Help!’, a drop-in session at Cliffs coffee shop (12.30-2.30pm, 5 May) with the teams from a-n and Arts Emergency on hand to discuss the support they offer to artists.

The programme comes to a close with ‘First Friday – What We Have In Common’ at Marine Studios (6.30-8.30pm, 5 May). Established in 2009, this monthly event brings people together to discuss a particular topic or theme.

Led by creative producer and cultural strategist Sophie Jeffrey, ‘What We Have in Common’ will sum up the two days of workshops, debates and talks and identify shared resources. There will also be a chance to add to an arts timeline as part of the launch of a new Isle of Thanet Arts Archive, collating material to form a specialist research archive in Marine Studios’ open library.

Assembly Margate, 4-5 May 2017, various venue, Margate. All events are open to both members and non-members.

For information on future Assembly events in Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle upon Tyne and Leeds see

1. Sightseeking or Siteseeking?, guided walk with artist Julia Riddiough and architect David Kitt as part of Margate Festival 2016. Photo: Julia Riddiough
2. Anna Francis, The Portland Inn Project. Photo: Rebecca Davies
3. First Friday. Photo: Dan Thompson

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