Case Study: The Kent Downs AONB

The Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a nationally protected landscape stretching from the white cliffs of Dover to the Surrey and London border. With ancient bluebell woodlands, rugged chalk coastline, internationally rare chalk grassland, and ragstone villages, there is beauty to explore all year round. The North Downs Way National Trail, one of 15 national trails in England and Wales, is home to the arts trail, and much of it follows the legendary Pilgrims Way from Canterbury to Winchester.

"The Kent Downs AONB Unit works with a host of organisations and partners to deliver a variety of projects and schemes across the Kent Downs AONB to help protect the landscape, nature, local communities, and businesses. As part of the EXPERIENCE project, we've developed a number of new sustainable and cultural experiences to specifically extend the visitor season, from October to March.

These include our new 'Inspiring Views' art installations which will be positioned and promoted as our new off-season tourism offer, harnessing regional selling points to create exciting itineraries. Each commissioned artwork will highlight inspiring views, giving a reason to visit, pause and appreciate each specific location, while encouraging interaction from visitors.

Through CuratorSpace, we have commissioned five artists over the last year. This has been a new process for many of the team; we aren't an arts organisation so we don't have many artists in our networks. CuratorSpace has helped us reach globally recognised artists and architects and we have received submissions from across the UK. We would not have had this reach had we not used CuratorSpace. The site has enabled us to advertise our opportunity widely, directly with the artists, and really simply and affordably.

The callibre of artists for our open calls has been excellent. The commissioning process has been fascinating and it has been incredible to see so many varied proposals. It's opened our eyes to how the site has benefitted us in this process. We have found many new artists and it has been useful to build up our list of contacts that we can keep in touch with for future work. 

Three 'Inspiring Views' sculptures have been successfully installed in the Dover & Canterbury Districts and two more sculptures in Canterbury & Ashford have been commissioned and will be installed by the end of the year. We now have another commission opportunity, partnering with Dover District Council, and have returned to CuratorSpace to help us manage this." 

You can find out more about the Kent EXPERIENCE project here and the North Downs Art Trail here. You can also apply for their upcoming opportunity here. Deadline 18th August 2022 11:59pm GMT

Images (in order) 'After the Black Gold', Channel. Woolage, Via Francigena, Kent, 'Radius', James Tunnard. c/o Surrey Hills Arts, North Downs Way. (Photo Credit John Miller), 'Monumenta Romana', Charles Holland Architects. Waldershare Estate, Via Francigena, Kent.


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