Turner Contemporary awarded £500,000 grant for tourism ‘treasure hunt’ project

Red Ladies at Turner Contemporary Credit Manu Palomeque

Turner Contemporary has been awarded £500,000 for a project aimed at attracting UK and European tourists to the South East.

The Arts Council England grant comes from a £3.28 million Cultural Destinations programme the new cultural tourism project.

Galleries in the South East will work together with leading artists and tourism businesses to create a unique new cultural ‘treasure hunt’ trail to tempt visitors to the region.

Jyll Bradley, Dutch Light for Agneta Block, credit Stephen White

The trail combines original new artwork commissions by internationally renowned artists, geocaching GPS technology, new bookable itineraries and an artist-led accommodation offer.

Turner Contemporary will lead the project with Visit Kent (Go To Places), which has been awarded £350,000 for the project from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund, administered by VisitEngland.

This is the first time the gallery will commission leading UK and international artists to create artworks across the whole of the South East region, with the aim to attract visitors across the ‘Creative Coast’.

Turner Contemporary will work with partners Creative Foundation, De La Warr Pavilion, Jerwood Gallery, Metal, Towner Art Gallery and Whitstable Biennale on the project.

Photo Ady Kerry

Director of Turner Contemporary Victoria Pomery OBE said:  “We’re delighted to have secured Culture Destinations funding. By truly putting arts and culture at the core of the project, we aim to create a unique, cohesive visitor offer which celebrates our distinctive coastline and significantly grows the visitor economy for the region.This ambitious project will create an experiential trail, relevant to key markets, through digital technologies and partnerships across the South East.”

Margate by John Horton

Targeted at French and Dutch tourists and UK visitors, the project will create a new digital foot, cycle and train trail through Essex, Kent and East Sussex. Along the route, visitors will be able to find the new original artworks and log treasure containers – ‘geocaches’. They will be able to book experiences in each of the destinations such as tours and artists talks, and the project will trial a new accommodation offer, allowing visitors to visit and stay in artists’ homes and studios.

The trail route will include the Thames Estuary, Whitstable, Margate, Folkestone, Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne, showcasing dramatic coastal scenery.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, Chief Executive Visit Kent (Go to Places) said:  “We are thrilled that we have the chance to work with our partners at Turner Contemporary to bring this exciting cultural project to life.

“More than 44% of visitors to Britain in 2016 stated ‘cultural attractions’ were their main motivator for choosing Britain as a holiday destination, and visits to museums and art galleries accounted for £889m of visitor spend that year alone. Our goal is to inspire international visitors who are interested in cultural adventures to go out and explore our coastline, and discover new art installations, stunning galleries and incredible characters and communities on the way.”

Turner Contemporary will lead on the delivery of the project’s arts content, including the new artworks, while Visit Kent (Go to Places) will lead on building and marketing the project’s tourism offer.

The project has also secured investment from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), East Sussex County Council and Kent County Council.


  1. I think it’s a great idea but what about the young up and coming artists in Thanet/Kent lets show this art as well .the turner is there for all not just established artists. P.S how about putting a big sign on the side of the Turner so visitors can see where it is .

  2. I am great fan of ALL forms of art and whilst this money must be great news for Turner Contemporary I think it is wishful thinking to expect visitors from the continent to visit Margate which still promotes an outdated sea front arcade culture circa 1930. Until this changes to a modern sophisticated environment of the type seen of continent then Margate et al will remain a backwater or at best a passthrough.

    • B Jones, when were you last in Margate? I’ve lived here for four years and can assure you that the sea front arcade culture, while still there, is a very small part of the culture of Margate as a whole. It’s certainly no longer a cultural backwater and already attracts many overseas visitors, thanks largely to the Turner.

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