As 2020 draws to a close, we’ve been looking back over the past year and thinking about impact. Both the impact we have made through our work over the past 12 months, and also the impact that this strange year has made on us, our clients and the artists and project partners we work with as well as the wider world.
Published date: 14 December 2020
Back in January we were celebrating our work with Craven District Council and Great Place: Lakes and Dales (GPLD) and artist Mary Woolf as part of a programme to use art, culture and heritage to attract and retain young people to live and work in the area. New projects with Golding Homes, Mid Sussex District Council and Redrow Homes were just getting started.
Then of course the pandemic hit but we continued working – albeit in a different way, bending and flexing to work in new ways with our clients. It also gave us the chance to explore our own neighbourhoods and appreciate the creativity seen during our lockdown walks.
In April we were delighted to make the shortlist for the Planning Awards 2020, for the Chatham Placemaking Project scooping a Highly Commended in the Placemaking category and comments from the judges: “A high quality scheme with great attention to detail. Great to see the community involvement”
Whilst we have been fortunate to have much to celebrate this year, the events of 2020 have also highlighted that we all have more work to do towards making places better for everyone. The Black Lives Matter movement gave us all pause for thought and raised awareness of ongoing issues with racial inequality and prejudice in both the UK and around the world. And the economic fallout of the Covid crisis has had a huge impact on so many of our colleagues in the arts and of course so many other industries. We were particularly sad to lose our local Pizza Express although we hear on the grapevine that the building is being revamped into The Green Room, Maidstone’s newest venue for food, drink and music.
As the decline in the British High Street and engagement with the traditional bricks and mortar retail landscape has continued to shift online over the last few months, we’ve enjoyed being part of the debate to imagine a new way of using the public realm. There is no doubt that the arts can play a huge part in this and it’s been interesting to see support for Cultural Quarters, Meanwhile Uses and people wanting and demanding more from their High Streets. Our recent project in Wivelsfield definitely brightened up a dreary bridge underpass as artist Maria Amidu invited the local community to come up with a motto for their neighbourhood.
More recently we have enjoyed finding new ways to connect with our peers in the construction and property development industry by joining the first KCFG Virtual Conference and talk more about how working in close partnership and collaboration has been central to our successful navigation of these challenging times – drawing inspiration from the creativity of artists and design teams, seeing the world afresh and creating thought-provoking art.
Spending time outdoors visiting sites with projects in progress particularly Rochester Riverside and Conningbrook Lakes has proved a vital source of inspiration and motivation. It has been a joy to commission artists who connect to nature through their work, celebrating the diversity of the environments we live and work in.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year and we were pleased to celebrate 16 years in business and two successful bids to Arts Council and DCMS through their Emergency Response Fund and Cultural Recovery Fund.
Looking ahead to 2021, we are working with Great Place: Lakes & Dales on the virtual launch of Public Art Now! Save the Date – Thursday 14th January. A campaign produced by us to empower younger culture and voices in public art commissioned by Great Place: Lakes & Dales.
We will also be sharing a series of projects aimed at Demystifying Public Art, that include film commissions, podcasts and digital downloads. We will be joined in conversation and highlighting the work we undertake with artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, architects and industry professionals. More news in the New Year!
Finally here’s to the local yarn bombers who have cheered us up during this year with their garden gate decorations and window displays. A knitted Christmas robin, tree and mince pie appeared on the corner post box over night- a lift to the spirits on a wintery day!