Stretch Outsider Gallery secures new Margate base – and kicks off with special theatre performance

A new home and a new play for Stretch Outsider Gallery

Stretch Outsider Art Gallery has taken up residence in a new base – and is celebrating with the staging of a new piece of theatre tonight (June 10).

The gallery is run for Stretch, an arts charity that has been working predominantly in the criminal justice system for some 15 years and showcases work made by non-formally trained artists, intuitive artists, people affected by mental illness, homelessness and the criminal justice system – or anyone who self-identifies as an ‘outsider’ of any sort.

It is headed up by two former prisoners, Carlotta Allum (pictured) and Dean Stalham (pictured outside the former premises), who are now curators, writers and artists in their own right.

The organisation was given notice on its former base at The Centre last month but has now announced the move to The Margate Art School at the former Woolworth building in the High Street.

The event, at 8pm, is the staging of Dean’s new play Welcome to Paradiso.

The cast includes Thanet residents Marj Hogarth, Connor Sansby, Rebekah Sunshine, Dickie Neil and Dean with stage directions read by Stretch boss Carlotta Allum.

Doors open at 7.45pm. Find the event page here

What is Stretch?

Stretch delivers arts projects with prisoners, ex-prisoners, homeless, mental health groups and young people in care, making the arts accessible to some of the most vulnerable people marginalised by society. Projects can cover visual arts, museums, photography, creative writing and media skills. The charity works with people to make their voice heard in order to dispel myths and stereotypes and create positive change.

The charity was set up in 2003 by Carlotta, who spent eight and a half months in an American detention centre after being arrested at  LAX airport for being a drug mule.

On her release and return to the UK carlotta completed her  MA in Museums and Galleries in Education at the London Institute.

She  studied Classical Studies at Kings College London, then completed a PGCE. She has also completed a research scholarship with the Griffins Society at the London School of Economics looking at the arts and rehabilitation of female offenders.

Stretch  is currently delivering Stretch Digital, a nationwide Big Lottery funded project equipping prisoners with skills in new media to create digital stories about their personal experiences of the criminal justice system and the life that led them there.

Find out more here

Margate Art School

Renovating the Woolworths store

The Margate School, who secured £499,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund in September, has renovated several floors of the former shop.

It is to be used in revitalising the area with plans for a cafe, exhibitions and co-working spaces on the ground floor.

The Margate School aims to provide early technological support for the ‘creative cluster’ that has grown up around Turner  Contemporary and create a ‘Pop Up’ facility for digital printing and imaging with analogue. The school will also use the old Midland Bank building and adjacent shop premises for specific enterprise training/workshops for desk-based support and mentoring sessions.