Sunshine Cafe art exhibition raises £75k for Thanet education projects

Hartsdown student Jamie Horton will be offered a chance to shadow a professional Photo John Horton

A massive £75,000 raised so far from artworks in an exhibition at the former Sunshine Cafe on Margate seafront will be used for education projects on the isle.

Exhibition We Must Cultivate Our Garden displayed work by Hartsdown students alongside that of Turner Prize winners and  nominees to mark the hosting of the top arts award at Turner Contemporary.

The exhibition featured works from Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Jeremy Deller and others in the Grade II* listed building at the Dreamland site which was opened for the first time since 2011. 

It was curated by Lee Cavaliere (pictured below) who heads up new arts and education charity The Sixteen Trust.

The Trust is working with Hartsdown students, with the aim of expanding this to the isle’s Coastal Academy Trust schools and then further afield, to show them how their talents and potential could be used to carve out a career in arts.

He said: “The Trust is working with schools and has artists and professionals as mentors to  kids aged 11 to 16. The idea is to show art is not just about artists but there is a whole process of creating culture from building theatre sets to long term collection care, carpenters, lighting, there is a whole infrastructure to arts that gets overlooked.

“We will be giving practical solutions to young people in deprived areas, starting here in Thanet. There is a perception that arts are not a viable thing to go ito and that artists do not make any money but the arts are very broad church and there are interesting career paths.

“We have mentors, such as theatre and costume designers, and the idea is to go into schools, talk to the kids and have projects running through the school year.

“We have a whole army of mentors ready to go. We will start with Thanet schools and after six months look at where we go next. We aim to be broader and are also talking to schools in Folkestone and east London.”

The first schools on the programme are Hartsdown, King Ethelbert and the Royal Harbour Academy. The project will then spread to other Coastal Academy Trust schools on the isle before expanding.

Lee says there will be a three pronged approach with mentoring, exhibitions and the plan to get artworks by creators such as tracey Emin or Damien Hirst sited in school buildings.

He said: “It would be wonderful to bring the artwork, particularly Tracey Emin’s as she went to King Ethelbert, into schools. It will be inspiring for the kids and would have a lot of impact.

“Now we have the money to look at doing this and we are also talking to philanthropic individuals and organisations to help make that happen.

“It means the kids will enjoy the artwork on their own terms and help get people interested in talking about art.”

Art consultant Lee, who moved to Thanet three years ago, says youngsters will also benefit from his art world connections and is already arranging for Hartsdown student Jamie Horton to shadow a top fashion photographer.

We Must Cultivate Our Garden attracted more than 10,000 visitors, including 1,500 from local school groups.