Margate Charter Trustees reveal £2k cost of Tracey Emin Freewoman ceremony after public enquiries

Tracey Emin and mayor Cllr Heather Keen Photo Frank Leppard

Margate Charter Trustees spent £2,084 on the ceremony declaring artist Tracey Emin as a Freewoman of the town.

The Trustees say they are releasing the figure after receiving public enquiries about the sum spent.

The money paid for ceremonial attire, a badge and framed scroll while event space, the red carpet, chairs and photography by Frank Leppard was all provided free of charge.

Margate Charter Trustees conferred Tracey Emin with the title at a ceremony on (August 12 held at the artist’s studio in Union Crescent.

Ms Emin received the honour in recognition of her international acclaim as an artist and her investment in the cultural and physical environment of Margate.

It was the first time that the Charter Trustees  conferred the honour and Ms Emin is only the fourth woman ever to receive it. The three previous recipients were honoured by the Borough of Margate.

A statement from the Margate Charter Trustees says: “The decision to award Tracey Emin CBE RA as freewoman of Margate was unanimously made by the  Charter Trustees at a meeting on July 11.

“Tracey was chosen for this award as an internationally recognised artist who has made an important contribution to the town in her support of the artistic community.

“The Charter Trustees have received enquiries into the cost of the event and we are happy to share this information.

“Transparency is a key Nolan Principle that governs good practice in public life, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Margate on behalf of the Charter Trustees are keen to ensure the organisation is as transparent as possible.

“The cost of the ceremonial attire, badge and framed scroll comes to £2,084.19. The event space was offered for free, the red carpet was loaned for the event for free, the chairs provided for free, and the photography was provided for free by Frank Leppard. Refreshments were provided by Ms Emin CBE RA, Freewoman of Margate.

“The Mayor and Charter Trustees are very conscious of their responsibilities in spending public money, especially in these difficult times. We have a Mayor’s charity fund which we regularly fundraise for and encourage local groups and organisations to apply to via using the Mayor’s fund form.”

Former councillor Ian Driver says he sent the Freedom of Information request asking for the cost breakdown.


  1. I am not a fan really, but if someone can earn a fortune displaying an unmade bed, with a used condom on the floor, then good luck to her!

  2. What a waste of money,for a has been ,who does not even reside in Thanet.Why do people celebrate this second rate “artist”?

  3. scandalous ! , and i understand she dosnt even live in margate ? , given the times we are living in , i am sure that money could have been better spent than on this nonsense.

    • But the 2000 odd spent on her will be a pittance in comparison to the amount that she has personally bought to the area and the money that has followed her lead. A piece of pointless pomp and ceremony maybe but the cost is little more than a rounding error when all is considered.

    • Only a couple of years !!!!

      Van Gogh was only here 2 months and theres busts and blue plaques for him. So a couple of years is good going lol

    • She went to school here for more than 2 years. She was at Holy Trinity school for at least 2 years and then went on to King Ethelbert for another 5. I am not sure when she left Margate but she was definitely still here in her late teens.

  4. She has spent money in the area, bought the Brown Jug in Broadstairs and dont nothing with it. Its still rotting away. Put signs up saying security patrol and some scaffolding. That’s it.

        • Peter, out of interest, when did you become aware of Emin’s “My Bed”, and did you ever go and see it exhibited?
          (I fully expect you are now quickly Googling to see what year she first exhibited it, so you can pretend that you take a keen interest in contemporary art, and will lie about having actually seen it).

          • I don’t know why these people who don’t like modern art (unless it looks like much earlier art) keep going on about something that was a new and original artwork years ago. Ms Emin has had an exhibition very recently- did they go to it?

          • Why would I pretend to have a keen interest in something that I don’t? Would you pretend to know all about The Swinging Blue Jeans because I said I liked them?

            One thing I AM interested in, is where you got your “record levels” Thanet tourism figures from, and how they really compare to the 50s & 60s.

  5. A successful artist gets an honour and the locals bring out the hate stick. What a shame. I guess even Turner and Van Gogh would have had the same treatment. Oh, well. Well done, Tracy, you deserve it.

      • Van Gogh and Turner were equally radical in their time, and also mocked for their ‘alternative’ art. Art is not static, it doesn’t have to be “nice”, it pushes boundaries and doesn’t have to be technically excellent to be good. Art has to be different, it has to be beyond the contemporary to say anything new. Sure, loads of people just like a nice, regular, boring familiar picture, but where’s the art, the creativity and the punch in that? Nope, Tracey (and my apologies for misspelling her name previously) does art that truly pushes those boundaries, makes one question what ‘nice’ is, has laid bare her inner feelings and shone a light on those areas that many wish to keep hidden. If art gets a reaction beyond ‘nice’ or ‘boring’ then it’s starting to do its job; it doesn’t have to be pleasant or even likeable. And it certainly is nothing to do with being technically perfect; that’s done by the artisan, not the artist. Great art makes you stop, think, react. You may love it, you may hate it, the artist doesn’t care, as long as it gets a reaction and makes you think. And Tracey Emin’s work does just that in spades.

        • Incredibly well said Ian. It really makes a change to see a comment here from someone can be objective rather than the usual crowd of reactionary idiots like “real world”.

  6. I saw tradesmen at the Brown Jug a few weeks ago. Maybe architects or builders of some kind. Front door was open and a couple were going in and out so it’s definitely an ongoing project. It’s a very old building so you can’t always get the right tradespeople in quickly on a heritage build. Give her a chance! I can’t see why people begrudge her presence so much – the whole isle has certainly benefited from the Tracey effect in terms of hospitality revenue, retail and culture. My dilapidated street is becoming positively cool with empty buildings being done up and new shops and cafes appearing within steps of my front door. Lots of hardworking people here capitalising on the trend that started with Tracey – they’re the ones who will keep it going. Long may it last.

  7. Very interested by Ian’s (14th Sept) definition of a great artist.
    A convoluted and protracted definition that simplified means that he believes a great artist is evaluated merely on the basis of the degree to which they can provoke and that technical competence is irrelevant.
    None of which explains the brilliance of the great art filling galleries throughout the world.

  8. I agree with Ian’s definition to a large extent. However, I think that there should be , and probably always is, some degree of skill on the artist’s part, but that it is only one element of the completed work.

    • Aww look, the talentless writer has a poorly written blog.
      Let us know if you win any recognition from your contemporaries.

      • I disagree with most of what Ian writes, but to dismiss him as a “talentless writer” is just plain rude. He clearly spends a lot of time and effort researching beforehand. Besides, wouldn’t life be boring if we all agreed?!

  9. Working on the assumption that Ian and Ms. Rees (Sept. 14th) are right and that great art is about provocation, then surely there should be a message.
    A constructive message and one that helps society is spiritual, full of hope and aspiration and surely not promotion of the vulgar and degenerate and if you are going to make such base provocations….well there is nothing new in such a message and makes no worthwhile contribution.

    • Not provocation in the sense of “being annoying”, of course, but that of “causing the viewer to react to it in some way”.

      • Also, I don’t think there needs to be a deliberate”message”, just as music doesn’t need to be giving a message to its listeners.

      • You understand?
        Well, I hope you can provide some actual facts to back up what you “understand”. Otherwise, I very much suspect you’ll get sued for libel.

  10. Well more money well spent by Thanet council, one day they will spend money on Thanet to clean it up and make the place people want to come too.

    • You do realise that because of Emin’s influence and the success of The Turner, tourist numbers to Margate and the rest of Thanet are now at record levels?

      • I doubt that the Turner draws many people to Margate, let alone Ramsgate and Broadstairs… More likely our stunning beaches and glorious harbours that are within easy travelling distance of London.

        • I also don’t believe that tourist numbers are at “record levels”… who told you that? Up until the 50s, now-quiet bays such as Epple and Walpole were jam-packed, as there wasn’t enough space on the main beaches!

  11. Well to those who find the base and vulgar a worthy provocation… you’re welcome.
    To me it indicates a sick society and one I want no part of.

    • Leonardo,
      It must be so difficult for someone so easily offended to find pleasure in anything.
      How sad and twee your sheltered life must be.
      I hear Beachy Head offers sanctuary to those who don’t want to be a part of a society. You really wouldn’t be missed by it.

      • I wantedto intellectualise the debate.
        Everyone has a right to an opinion, but parameters need to be set otherwise there can no informed resolution.
        The speculation elsewhere in this column concerning the local authority would be amusing if it were not so misplaced.
        I can speak with some authority knowing all the principal people personally.

  12. I can’t stand her art, and I suspect I wouldn’t like her very much as a person (though I’ve never met her)… but I have NO problem with her getting recognition and awards. I’m a capitalist, and believe that success should be encouraged.

  13. Do not get me started on misuse of funds.
    Except my story over Charter Trustees is something that Kathy would not merit me for. It is though a case for me to report to.
    What I want to know is the mis appropriation of those places without any status funds?
    Over the years each place without a council.. All the precept went to charter trustees and I do not see in accounts this precepts accounted for.

    In due course I will report since Cliftonville lost borough status I have not seen the precept accounted for.

    There was no election during 2020..which was wrong. No meetings but charter trustees paid themselves

    About time this thanet was cleared up of misappropriation of funds

  14. I believe she was given this award by the mayor Heather Keen because Emin was offering money to do up the Viking Ship adventure playground but was persuaded by the local Cllrs including Keen to give the money towards the skate park next door instead. Give some money to council to do some good and get a reward in return ?

        • Thank you Peter, for challenging the spurious claim that tourist levels are at record levels.
          We have lost the hundreds of bed and breakfast businesses which thrived in the last half of the 20th century. The huge number of holidaymakers they catered for is unlikely to be seen again.
          Trains were packed and included special excursions. The coach parks were full.
          But in those days there were no high-profile tourist organisations, trying to justify their keep by showering us with often unprovable figures.
          We need not attach much weight to the posts by Hairy Jack, someone who dismisses those who don’t agree with him as ‘talentless’ or ‘reactionary idiots’.

          • Mike,
            But you are an idiot.
            Someone who pines so much for the 70s that he’s incapable of seeing that seaside towns have evolved from bed and breakfast, bawdy postcards and kiss me quick hats.

            Visitors now make single day trips rather than staying for a 3 or more nights.
            Where once a family of 4 might stay for 3 days, now 2 families of 4 might stay for a day.
            This has the affect that there appear to be less people in the town and yet the actual numbers of visitors will have risen.

        • Peter Checksfield- No,there doesn’t. It is not like for like. A better comparison would be with tourist numbers a few years ago.

          • Peter, I’ve tried posting the link to my source for record levels but it doesn’t seem to be showing.
            It comes from research conducted by Visit Kent in 2017…

            Visits to Thanet increased by 8.6% in 2017 with the district welcoming a record 4.2 million visitors, according to research released this week.

            “The value of Thanet’s visitor economy grew by 9.2% in 2017 and is now worth over £319 million.

            Independent research commissioned by Visit Kent showed that the number of day trips to the Thanet district leapt by 9.9% in 2017, meanwhile the total number of nights stayed in the district increased by 4.9%.

            The total number of jobs supported by tourism rose by 8.7% to 7,950, with the industry accounting for an impressive 19% of total employment across Thanet”

  15. I’ve seen better works done by a toddler and African elephant with his trunk but if these so called art experts who hang banana on the wall in Margate Turner Centre then good luck to Tracey Emins for fooling these idiots

  16. Peter, I see you’re using your usual debating tactic of not accepting any evidence put forward and then just harping on about the lack of evidence.

    You’ll find a copy of the actual survey by searching Tourism Industry In Kent Report and following the link to the .pdf file on the Kent County Council website.

    I can’t seem to post links but you’ll find the data if you actually look.

  17. That comment was made in the article I cited.
    Are you claiming I’m lying or the journalist I’m quoting? If you have evidence to back up this libelous claim, I suggest you provide it.

      • Peter, I’d say that whoever wrote the article is not ‘anonymous’ but rather unnamed, and writing on behalf of an organization. Although you or I may not know that person’s name, they would be known to others and thus your suggestion that they are a liar is defamatory.
        It could be argued that you are instead calling Thanet District Council liars and in that case it would be down to a Judge to decide if your accusation is general criticism or if it has malicious intent.

        Of course in reality, it’s unlikely they would bother reacting to some random self-published nobody who can’t accept he’s wrong.

          • You honestly think the roads were busier in the 1980s?

            To get back to the topic as you say, I don’t personally think that much of Emin’s art is “good” and I can understand why some people might dismiss it. ‘My bed” however is thought provoking, absorbing and gives a very detailed glimpse into Emin’s esrly life. I find it sad that most of it’s critics haven’t even taken the time to see it.

            I think the honour is deserved.

          • Yep. Queues regularly tailed back to Herne Bay (another place I lived in during the 80s).

            I thought ‘My Bed’ was horrible, but perhaps you aren’t (or maybe you are?) a fan of ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’ and ‘You’re No Good’.

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