Sunday, 21 February 2010

Turner Contemporary now we pay do we get any say and other Sunday rambles.

Now we know that we will be funding the Turner’s annual running costs of £2.6m with at least £1m each year out of our council tax, this is something that puts a completely different complexion on publicly funded art projects in Margate.

One thing that worries me is that when I use my normal means to discover something’s popularity (comparing available web statistics) these art projects seem to be being met with indifference.

Now if I put up a video on the internet I expect, if the video is any good that people will look at it

in this case over 4,000 did.

Now on the whole I would have expected Turner with all of its funding and high profile to have a website that was more popular than this blog and I would have expected the people visiting that site to be more interested in modern art than those visiting this blog.

Now back on the 8th of this month I embedded a video about their main art project in Margate this spring and on that day 28 of the 400 or so people who read this blog viewed the video, after that it soon went back to getting between 0 and 3 views a day.

About 10 days ago the people who write the Turner contemporary website embedded it on their main “what’s on” page, this has bumped the viewing figures up to an average of about 5 views a day.

Here is the video

Margate Marine Bathing Pool Walk from Hugh Kermode on Vimeo.

It is not my intention here to discuss the validity of a group of people walking round in circles being art that justifies public funding I am just using this particular work, because it is their main current project, as an example of the apparent lack of interest.

From a web designers point of view the Turner Contemporary’s website is a rather weak and dated affair, it lacks any attempt to engage with people as you can't comment on it and it lacks anything much in the way of trying to promote itself as it lacks feeds, so I can't add their what’s on page to my sidebar in a way that would update when they added something new.

Anyway my main question here and I think it’s a big one is, do the people running Turner intend to consult with the people of Kent, who will be paying for a considerable proportion for their activities, about what those activities will be?
I suppose my main gripe here is that if something is publicly funded then it shouldn’t be elitist and the measure by this elitism is easiest gauged, is that is something out of the context of an art gallery is not recognisable as art by an ordinary person, the although it may be art it is elitist art.

One thing I noticed when visiting the Droit House is how the people working there are obviously very careful not to leave anything lying about.
It could be a bit difficult to have ones packed lunch, shopping or umbrella mistaken for a work of art, doubly so if the person making the mistake is a famous art critic.

Something that I also find personally difficult here is that I am a person who appreciates much in the way of modern art, modern experimental fiction and modern music.

But for me there came a point, when I heard that Carl Andre had used the bricks that formed Equivalent VIII to build a wall in his garden and so when the Tate bought it he sent an order for some more bricks to the builder’s merchant, with instructions to deliver them directly to the Tate, that I thought some people were, playing my tune – out of tune.

Of course this may have been some sort of art folk myth, but the chap who told me worked for the V&A at the time and I have no reason to doubt him.

Now onto a new subject and that is the Powell cotton museum and Quex Park, what with one thing and another this has become Thanet’s last remaining tourist attraction of any consequence and certainly the only place we have left that will amuse a family for several hours on a wet day.

For my children and their visiting cousins the high point of the half term holiday was going to the “Lion King” event at the museum click on the link for their events

Now I know the first thing that will come into the minds of many people, particularly those with families is, how expensive is it, the answer here is that if when you visit you pay a small extra fee to become a friend of Quex all subsequent visits for the year are free and the special events are at a reduced price.

I should also point out here that the museum receives no public or government funding and the friends also do a certain amount to help raise money for the museum, it really is a friendly set up and I would recommend it to those with a little spare time.

I would also add that there is no question, even in my children’s minds about what constitutes an exhibit in the museum and what doesn't.

I didn’t get a chance to take any photographs of Quex last week so click on the link for some from past as you can see it really is worth a visit, event or no event.

As far as events for the forthcoming week goes the webcasting of the Thanet District Council meeting on the 25th February will be one to watch out for, for those of who don’t get the time to attend these meetings it will be interesting to see our local democracy in action, that is if they can get everything to work this time.

Anyway I had considered a question from the press and public in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13 to ask TDC for a grant for a new silly walk I have been working on.

After all the video above has had over 1m viewings.

Just noticed this new Ramsgate video and thought it had a certain apeal.

MariGNAR OUTLAW RACE TEASER!! from andrew on Vimeo.

The picture is of Margate Road at it's junction with Princes Road, College Road and St Lukes Avenue. Looking north towards Margate before the viaduct was built.

Update this new video about the walk in Margate has appeared on the internet today 22.2.2010, frankly I am impressed that anyone could manage to talk for so long about walking around in a circle.

Hamish Fulton - Margate Walk from Hugh Kermode on Vimeo.


  1. Michael

    Kindly show me where the £million a year for the Turner comes out of 'our' council tax.

  2. Hi Simon, perhaps I misunderstood this one I would certainly appreciate it if you have some other explanation.

  3. Just had a look at the turner site and also from a web designers perspective - i was wondering how much they shelled out of our money for what is basically a stylised blog that looks like it was created using wordpress or Joomla. Its not a very good way to advertise something that we may end up funding and im sure either of us could have knocked that together in a day or less.
    Its also odd and may just be me but i cant view the page source (what are they hiding)

  4. I can Sir Head try running IE8 in compatibility mode you will note with interest that there are no key words even on their homepage, it describes the content as simple thinking, so that may be the answer.

    Back in the days of Made Simple books and Teach Yourself books a bookshop customer once asked me for the Made Yourself Simple books.

  5. To clarify I am NOT against people doing silly walks in the name of art if that's what they want to do, but (like Michael) I'm concerned that it's WE who are funding projects of such minority interest. Of course there's no way they're going to consult with the people who are paying for this (if that were the case then our money wouldn't have been wasted on this building in the first place!).

    I too look forward to Simon' clarification of what we will & will not be paying for.

  6. "THE Turner Contemporary will receive at least £1 million in public money a year once it opens."

    That's the headline Michael but it's disingenuous to suggest that this comes from local council tax.

    There is NO Turner Contemporary line in any budget I have seen. It may be more accurate to say that comes from the collective KCC budget and elsewhere and so indirectly Thanet taxpayer make a contribution but this is more than balanced by what actually comes into Thanet from elsewhere in broader subsidies.

    Remember that your council tax makes only, I think, a 43% contribution to the local pot and we rely on the remaining 60% from County and Government simply to keep our heads above water. It's an over simplification perhaps, rather like the subsidy figure of £7,000 a year for every man woman and child in Thanet because of our high deprivation levels etc.

  7. Disingenuous is an interesting word to use in this context Simon, I am not quite sure here if you have considered the considerable contribution to business rates we all make when we buy anything in Thanet.

    Just for moment consider the grant for “the ministry of silly walks” as I have used it as an example, now I am sure that this is an artwork that you will be appreciating, although as I am aware you have a sense of humour that appreciation may not be quite in way the artist intended.

    Perhaps in this instance you could give some idea of what you think would be an appropriate amount for you to make as an involuntary contibution towards this particular project.

    Personally I would prefer KCC to use the funds in their pot to repair the crumbling infrastructure in Thanet, the roads and pavements were I have to trade and generate business rates are in an appalling condition and have been for some time, this is again just an example.

    Incidentally did you get your seven grand I know I didn’t nor the same amount for my wife and children?

  8. I liked your video of the East Pier, but rather suprised it wasn't closed off, in those sorts of conditions it always used to be closed but i suppose with a harbourmaster based in margate offices perhaps he didn't know the weather conditions in Ramsgate.
    As for the Turner centre once a white elephant always a white elephant and they just get more expensive as they get older.

  9. Michael and Simon

    As you may know I think the Turner Centre is flawed thinking.

    But if they want to be relevant to Thanet I suggest they might contact Dr Paul Darke (who is a Facebook friend of mine).

    Disabled arts movement

    Dr Paul Darke and Dr Laurence Clark have been at the forefront of disabled rights and dignity. They have both opposed the institutionalized care
    model as represented by Leonard Cheshire and the private care home sector.

    This sector is a major part of the Thanet economy but also a major historical factor in Thanet decline (Cllr Dr Charles McAvoy years ago warned on this).

    If you want some thought provoking art/film which is relevant to Thanet economy/decline and thoughts of some vision ahead ...

    Why not try to put on an Outside Centre exhibition ?

    I only know Paul through internet and correspondence through anti Leonard Cheshire Homes. But if anyone wants me to message him just let me know.

    A combo of Dr Darke and outside centre on exhibition with Dr Laurence Clark comedian (Jim Davidson excluded !) show at Winter Gardens ??

    Just a thought.

  10. Michael you are right to bring the cost of running the Turner to our notice as it is not just a KCC issue. I too read the same newspaper article and although I was not happy about it, it made it clear that £1 millions was comming from KCC purses. Most people know that this means the KCC's share of the council Tax. (about 74% of the total, TDC's share is just 11%). Many people dont realise that more than 60% of KCC funds come from central government.

    So with TDC putting a big zero in it budget it looks like the other £1.6 mill is down to rich patrons, entrance fees and mechandising.

    But maybe TDC have never been in the frame to underwrite this gamble with Margate's future.

    I dont have a clue how the £7,000 per thanet family is derived, maybe some body could come up with the figures. That must be over £200 millions extra for thanet- whats happened to it? If a band D property has a KCC council Tax of £1,000 pa the government chips in another £1,500 to KCC. Its true central government give other grants to Thanet direct like the £110,000 per month to get young people into work but thats only about £12 per person in thanet per year.

  11. KCC are not a charity. 100% funded by the taxpayer. Any monies spent come from the taxpayer - council, income, business etc etc. Any pound spent is a pound kindly given by the public for good use. Kent TV, Turner, Icelandic banks, Virginia flights from Manston that didn't 'take off'.

    Anyone suggesting there is no burden on the thanet taxpayer is, well, disingenuous.

    Stop spouting the deprivation line Doc. You and your type have brought the area nothing talking thanet down for 20 years.

  12. Great video of the spring tide amazing the power of mother nature, also love the video of the skateboarders funnily enough we will be hiring out Longboards like that once we open in april i may have to give it a try... downhill (may be too old at 41 though).

  13. I think the population of Thanet is 125,000 so government grants of £7000 for each person would generate £875,000,000 p.a. for Thanet.

    According to the TDC 2010/11 BUDGETS AND MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL PLAN 2010-15, the budget for TDC is just under £24,000,000, made up of £10 millions in council tax income and £14 millions frmo the government's formula grant. In addition the document lists other government grants to TDC such as the £4 million capital grant to Dreamland, and these total no more than £15 millions. Somebody has got his fact wrong in your comments.

  14. 14.28 The video was shot before the change of harbour master so I don’t quite know what happened there.

    Richard I will get to watching him when I get the chance thanks.

    19.19 21.17 I think the key here is business rates, TDC collect them, send them to the government who then send them to KCC after some adjustments, so we are still paying locally for these things.

    Caitlin`s Beach Cruisers, I think I will give that one a miss too on grounds of age.

    19.13 I couldn’t understand the figures either, certainly if that amount is goin into Thanet we don’t seem to be getting good value for money.

  15. Whatever!!! The costs to the public will never be recovered from the Tuner Centre.

    KCC will still not answer my F.O.I of the total costs to the tax payer for the now detested Turner and this includes art events etc.

    Still we live in hope and the next local elections.

    Perhaps the officer who made the derogatory comment to Mike would hold their hand thought not.


  16. The largest chunk by far of our Council Tax goes to KCC. If KCC are then subsidising the Turner Centre then surely it is a pretty clear and direct link to the money that we have to pay.

    Just think, I would be even more hacked off living in Tunbridge Wells and subsidising it !!

  17. "Mr Kampfner said 2010 would be the year when “it all comes together”,

    Well, perhaps they can just expand the Turner Centre to encompass the whole of Margate town centre as there certainly aren't many shops left now.

  18. Anyone know who is going own/run the hotel at the Turnip site?

  19. I see that according to today's Thanet Times they're now wrestling in the name of art! Maybe the Winter Gardens should be rebranded as an art gallery?


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