Open mic call for poets to take part in ‘defiance against vandals’ Stretched Lips 9 event

Genevieve is helping organise the event

Local poets are being invited to take part in an open mic session as part of the Stretched Lips 9 event in Cliftonville.

The message of the event is ‘defiance against vandals’ in reference to a poster display that was ripped down from the Newgate Gap ‘artbox’ earlier this month.

Stretched Lips 9 features poetry, performances and the open mic session at The Albion Rooms on Eastern Esplanade on February 27.

Included in the line up is host Dean Stalham, from the Stretch charity which now owns the shelter, Charlie Partridge, Suzanne French and Sonja Bigg, Nick Goodall, Genevieve Pepper and a poetical DJ set from TBX.

Poet Genevieve is helping to organise the event,

She said: “I’m a local poet and I am helping to organise an event to raise awareness of the vandalism that has been happening to community art spaces.

“The message of the event is ‘defiance against the vandals – we won’t let them win!’

“We are having an event at the Albion Rooms called Stretched Lips 9, there will be performances from local artists and poets, plus an open mic section which I’m hosting. I want local poets to come down and get on the mic!”

The event is free and runs from 7pm to 10pm. Open Mic hopefuls to meet Genevieve at the venue at 6.30pm.

Contact Genevieve at [email protected]

12 Comments

  1. Whilst I agree we should not tolerate vandalism, I do understand why the posters would have been torn off. The Council destroyed the shelter with neglect then gave it to ‘Stretch’ now the leasee. They took it away from the local community who used the shelter to give to a private band of arty people. Now the community and youngsters who played on the green are angry with them. They don’t understand what a load of anonymous faces on posters is about. They don’t see anyone anyone or any explanation at all. They just see that their shelter was vandalised by the destruction and with a box put up so just maybe they don’t like what is happening with it. TDC seems to be destroying much of the historical amenities of Cliftonville by lack of any maintenance and leaving them to rot until the are removed for good
    Just my opinion!

    • I agree with you. The discourtesy of showing those images without any reference to the original project of which they are a tiny part didn’t help. Good community art/collaboration needs the investment of intelligence, not arrogant stupidity. The paradox of offending the very people who should be engaged is painfully amusing. The fundamental neglect of this community asset, a heritage shelter by TDC is the real issue. Chucking charitable crumbs at this open sore is attracting lymphocytes creating a very nasty festering boil on Cliftonville’s seascape.

  2. Far more importantly, what has happened to Palm Bay cafe? We walked from Birchington today expecting a hot cup of coffee in a warm building, but they were only serving through a hatch “because of Covid”!

    • Yet every other cafe is allowing customers inside to eat and drink. Restrictions are gone now, whether or not we agree with it.

  3. Viva The Vandals! Dodgy Charity Stretch Sets Loose Attack Dog Poets!
    Following damage to its exhibition at the Newgate Gap Shelter in Cliftonville, the dodgy, virtually bankrupt , art charity, Stretch, has scraped the bottom of the creative barrel by organizing a “resist the vandals” poetry event at the Albion Rooms, Margate, on 27th February.
    According to its charitable objectives Stretch was established “to advance the education and promote the rehabilitation of disadvantaged communities by the promotion of art”.
    By attacking in the media those who damaged the exhibition, and by organizing a self-indulgent performance by anti-vandal attack dog poets, Stretch is focusing its anger at members of a hugely disadvantaged community, which its charitable objectives require it to help, not to abuse and slag off .
    Not that Stretch appears to have made any serious efforts to engage with the community it now berates. I am unaware of the organization working with the people of Cliftonville to get them involved in creating art.
    Nor has Stretch allowed the community within which it works, to have any say about what is displayed at the Newgate Gap Shelter’s so-called art box. Instead, Stretch is doing art to the Cliftonville community in an arrogant, dictatorial way, rather than listening to, and engaging with its art-box neighbors.
    When disaffection with this non-inclusive brand of community art manifest itself in the damaging of its exhibits Stretch, instead of reviewing its top-down, we know best approach, aggressively doubled down upon the community it claims to be a part of.
    By denouncing them in the media as vandals, by threatening to exhibit pictures of the vandals on the art box, and by organizing a bunch of naive poets to front an anti-vandal dog-piling event , Stretch is recklessly insulting and provoking one of the most deprived communities in the country. Hardly a good way for the self-described “outside artists” to put roots down in any community.
    Most worrying is the fact that Stretch and its deluded supporters are so quick to denounce its critics as vandals. Yet as these self-professed artists must know, much of their trade originates from what many would call vandalism – just think Banksy.
    And don’t forget that vandalism has been recognized for hundreds , if not thousands, of years as a means of legitimate expression and social commentary.
    As someone convicted in 2021 of damaging public buildings and memorials in Broadstairs with anti-racist graffiti, I am proud to be classified as a vandal. I heartily support my fellow vandals such as the Bristol statue topplers, and the art-box photo rippers , for expressing their views through their actions.
    To condemn and denounce vandalism as quickly as Stretch has done suggests to me that it is an organization led by reactionaries who oppose freedom of expression and reject any form of criticism of the organization. Such a narrowminded outlook is totally out of step with most people in the art world.
    Interestingly, the vandalized photographs are not new works produced with the art box in mind. The photographs are in fact part of a 2019 Inside Out People’s Art Project which were pressed into service at the art-box because Stretch has no money and nothing else to display.
    My doubts about Stretch’s over-stretching are confirmed by its appalling financial affairs. Stretch last submitted accounts to the Charity Commission on 11 June 2021. These accounts were for the financial year ending 30 September 2019 and were submitted 316 days late. The accounts for the financial year ending 30 September 2020 have not been submitted yet and are now 204 days overdue.
    Returning to the September 2019 accounts they sate that Stretch has just £86 in the bank! Worse still the independent examiner says that “accounting records were not kept in respect of the Trust as required by section 130 of the Act;” and that the “accounts do not accord with those records”. The examiner goes on to say that:-
    “In the absence of supporting documentation in respect of some payments , I have been unable to confirm that the allocation of all amounts to the expense codes in the Receipts and Payments
    Account set out on page 5 or the allocation of amounts between Restricted Income Funds as set out in Note 2 on page 7 are accurate and appropriate in respect of the current or previous year”
    In the accounts for financial year ending the 30 September 2017 the examiner says:-
    “In the absence of supporting documentation in respect of payments totaling £99,007, I have been
    unable to confirm that the allocation of these amounts to the expense heads in the Receipts and Payments Account set out on page 16 or the allocation of amounts between Restricted Income Funds as set out in Note 2.2 on page 18 are accurate and appropriate in respect of the current or previous year”.
    In the accounts for financial year ending the 30 September 2016 the examiner says:-
    “In the absence of supporting documentation in respect of £139,924, I have been unable to confirm that the allocation of these amounts to the expense heads in the Receipts and Payments Account set out on page 6 or the allocation of amounts between Restricted Income Funds as set out in Note 2.2 on page 8 are accurate and appropriate”.
    So not only does Stretch aggressively abuse and vilify the community in which it displays second time around art works, but it also appears to be virtually bankrupt, have a persistent habit of submitting late accounts, and to have spent almost a quarter of a million pounds of charitable funding without keeping records on what this money was used for. These matters raise extremely serious concerns about the financial stability and honesty of Stretch.
    The council says that when disposing of its property by the community asset transfer route it will ensure that it “manages the risks associated in transferring publicly held assets to eligible community organizations”. The council also says when transferring an asset it will also ensure that “the community organization has demonstrated that they have the skills and financial ability to become the new custodians of the facility”.
    Questions must be asked about how and why the council and the three Cliftonville West Labour councilors Allan Currie, Heather Keen, and Harry Scobie, who I understand all backed Stretch’s bid, thought it was a good idea to transfer the ownership of a public property to Stretch
    The public record makes it clear that this is an organization which is virtually bankrupt and has an appalling track record of financial management and dishonesty in the spending of charitable funds.
    To believe that Stretch has “the skills and financial ability to
    become the new custodians” of the Newgate Gap Shelter stretches the credibility the council and the three Cliftonville West Labour councilors Allan Currie, Heather Keen, and Harry Scobie beyond breaking point.
    I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to find out more about how and why a property transfer, which appears to have taken place contrary to the councils own rules, was allowed to happen.
    I will also be complaining to the Charity Commission about how an organization which has failed on multiple occasions to submit its accounts on time, and has failed to adhere to proper accounting procedures, is allowed to remain registered.
    I believe that the council has no option but to take back ownership of the Newgate Gap Shelter from Stretch as it clearly fails to qualify as a recipient of a community asset transfer, or any other transfers be they property or funding for that matter.
    On the basis of the evidence I have seen, I personally believe Stretch to be a predatory chancer, masquerading as a charity in order to get it hands on public funding and property in exchange for doing little or nothing. It is an organization which also appears to have dark side of aggression and bullying towards its critics.
    But thankfully had it not been for the excellent work of the art-box photo rippers the real, less than charitable and decidedly dodgy nature of Stretch would never have been publicly exposed.
    I propose that the Stretch organized, anti-vandal gathering of attack dog poets lyrically defending the indefensible, is cancelled and replaced by a celebration of vandalism which pays tribute to the absolutely essential role it has had, and continues to have, in exposing the truth about dodgy dealers such as Stretrch and driving social, politcal, and artistic change.
    Viva The Vandals No passaran Stretch!

    • Ian Driver’s anti-Dickens vandalism just showed that he hadn’t done much research on the author.

      His description of blackface morris as racist also showed his ignorance, this time about the reasons why blackface morris developed, and its link with the disguises used by poachers and by protestors against social injustices.

      He seems to have a massive grudge against the Labour Party and its councillors.

  4. I haven’t read all of your post Ian Driver but I stopped at this: ‘Stretch is focusing its anger at members of a hugely disadvantaged community, which its charitable objectives require it to help, not to abuse and slag off’. Exactly what I thought on reading the article, exactly.

    I think the box is ill-conceived and that the shelter should be restored but if Stretch really believe in the thing, then of course they’ll be angry. But for the poetry readings to be advertised as ‘us’ i.e. Stretch & co. against ‘them’ i.e. most likely disadvantaged kids who haven’t got a clue who they are or where they’re going then the irony is extreme.

    • I agree with Carina in all that she says.

      In an article in December about the Art Box, one of the comments, was that it should have been maintained by TDC and kept as a shelter.
      Which I totally agree with.
      Somebody else commented about the community
      asset transfer of the Oval Lawns & bandstand
      FREEHOLD by TDC to a group called Gordon Road Area Street Scheme. This site would have been bequeathed historically to all of us in Cliftonville, as is
      most of the coastal greens in Cliftonville.
      The group is now titled
      GRASS Cliftonville CIC with three directors.
      If TDC could just hand this valuable 4 acre site to a small group of 8 streets, (I found this information on their social media) what else are TDC going to do.
      The incumbent group of 25 years had no alternative but to leave.
      The Cliftonville West councillors must have given their support to this action which I find unbelievable.
      This was all pointed out to Dean & Carlotta and Carlotta replied, “she stands shoulder to shoulder with her friends at GRASS’
      Well Carlotta & Dean I am sure the 3 Directors of this group will be there to give their support to you.
      What I can’t understand is that people come into the area wanting to change everything, with no regard to the people who have lived here for years and maybe even been born here.

    • I have had to search for this thread as it has disappeared from the main posts.
      I too agree with Carina and James Gibbons.
      The group seem to be very cliquey.
      I remember reading all the comments on the December feature about the ‘Art Box’and was not impressed with their matey comments about GRASS.
      I dont think the two men who run this group Grass have lived in this area very long and I think the same applies to Stretch.
      I certainly do not remember reading anywhere about the community asset transfer to this group
      GRASS, of the Oval Bandstand and Lawns or Stretch and the shelter.
      I only wish, when people come to live in this area that they try to get on with the locals,instead of arrogantly trying to change everything to suit them.

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