Six years ago on a bitterly cold day in Cliftonville a group of artists opened the doors to a disused warehouse with feelings of excitement and trepidation.
Since then creative studio, RESORT has flourished with their dynamic space for artists, architects and freelancers thriving at the Pettman building. In a short space of time they have held exhibitions, helped launched careers and even hosted the Duchess of Cambridge.
But now the collective is facing a battle to secure its future after an offer of £1.2m to buy the Victorian building was accepted by the owners.
Last weekend, to galvanise support, the community gathered outside the Athelstan Road site. This follows an application to Thanet council for the former warehouse to be registered as an asset of community value (ACV).
If the application is approved it will mean community groups will have a chance to place an offer for the property before the deal goes through.
Speaking at the rally RESORT founding member, Dan Chilcott says securing the building will enable the studio to grow within Thanet and beyond. He said: “It will show we are valued by the community and also makes it easier for potential funders and collaborations further afield. It’s hard to put a value on the arts, especially in an area undergoing regeneration and gentrification,” he said.
Dan who lives near the majestic building in Athelstan Road arrived in Margate shortly after Turner Contemporary opened in 2011 and was soon struck by the opportunities the building presented.
“We started out the aim of having a creative community which provides space for collaboration and artists’ development. The building is imposing and beautiful and is a real symbol of Margate’s Victorian heyday; the industrial space really suits us. When we got the key to the building there was snow in the lock and I thought ‘what the hell have we done?’ but we now have 55 members and a regular programme of exhibitions.
“Many local businesses started off at RESORT and have grown and taken their own premises such as Urchin and Open School East,” he explained. In 2015 the Duchess of Cambridge visited the premises after attending the Self exhibition at Turner Contemporary viewing the facilities which includes a print studio and dark room.
The building, which has been in the Pettman family since it was built in 1900, was placed on the market last spring and RESORT applied for the ACV in January and gathered on Saturday to show their support.
RESORT has been offered support by Kent County Council and is exploring funding options which includes a community mortgage with a specialist lender and further grants.
A decision on their application will be made by March 8.
The Isle of Thanet News has contacted Pettman for comment.