First Friday event in Margate to ask why people find accessing the arts difficult and how to overcome barriers

Museum and exhibition designer Kate Kneale from Margate company HKD will be holding a talk at the event

By Dan Thompson

At Margate’s First Friday event in June it will be asked why so many people find it hard to access arts events and take a look at ways to overcome some of the barriers.

For this special First Friday, members of Turner Contemporary’s Access Group present a day-and-a-half of events around the idea of access at one of Margate’s oldest art studios – Crate in Bilton Square just off the High Street. And there’s an open invitation to anyone with a venue to hold a First Friday event, and to anyone organising an event that weekend to think about access too.

While the topic of access includes barriers faced by those with a physical disability, it also includes the sensory problems faced by people who are neurodivergent, or the different needs of people who are older, or even the way language is used to exclude those who have not previously engaged in the arts.

Crate will be open on the afternoon and evening of Friday 2nd June and throughout Saturday 3rd June as a space for anyone who wants to join a conversation about making events accessible. It will host a number of talks and other events.

The barriers to access are varied – and they start long before the event. Museum and exhibition designer Kate Kneale from Margate company HKD will be holding a talk about the long road to access, and how to build the concept into every stage of a project, at Crate, on Friday, from 3pm-4pm.

Phillippa Cross from Coventry theatre company Talking Birds will speak about their journey to understanding access and developing The Difference Engine. A tool developed to make performances and events accessible to D/deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind and partially sighted audience members, it delivers captioning or audio description direct to their own audio devices. That talk happens on Friday, from 4pm-5pm.

Margate History Walker Lynn Jackson will lead an hour-long walk, leaving Margate railway station at 6.30pm and ending at Crate. She will focus on Margate’s history as a place of rest, recovery, and wellbeing, for people as diverse as TS Eliot, Hertha Marks Ayrton and Karl Marx.

Artist Dan Thompson will look at the Artists Manifesto for Access he created with Shoot Festival as part of Coventry City of Culture 2021 and see what an Isle of Thanet version might look like. It will be published in the weeks after Art For Anyone. Anyone visiting Crate on Friday and Saturday can contribute to the manifesto.

He will also lead a tour of Turner Contemporary’s latest exhibition, Maresias by Beatriz Milhazes, using plain English to make the work accessible to people who might normally be put off by modern art because they don’t understand it. That happens on Saturday, meeting at Crate at 2pm to walk to Turner Contemporary.

Experienced coach and mentor Lorna Dallas Conte, an artist herself, will offer five artists a short coaching session with a focus on how they can consider ways to increase the accessibility of their work.

Talking Birds

Access Group member Amanda Bodemeaid from Kent Association for the Blind will offer a short awareness session for any artist who is keen to consider how people with sight loss experience their work, looking at their individual medium with them.

To book a session with Lorna or Amanda, email

On Saturday afternoon at Crate, poet Connor Sansby will host a poetry matinee, with neurodivergent poets performing at a relaxed afternoon event from 2.30pm-3.30pm.

Extra events will be added – follow Crate’s social media for more details. All events are free.

Crate’s Public Programme for 2022-23 is a period of Research & Development focused on examining how it operates. They are using this period to listen to the community and collaborators, as well as broaden their perspective on how art organisations can function sustainably and responsibly.

The programme gives space and funding to different community groups and then gathers feedback from their experiences. That will allow organisers to re-assess what Crate’s core values are and how the studios can act with integrity around them. Visit to find out more.

Inside Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary’s Access Group is made up of activists who want to make the experience of moving through the world easier for everyone. They give up their time to help Turner Contemporary design the exhibitions with this in mind. The group meets up a few times a year to identify barriers within the programme and they use their knowledge and experience to provide solutions. . To find out more or to get involved, visit


  1. Accessing art events is easy in Margate. It’s just open toilets, clean streets and decent shops that are a bit of a struggle.

    • It depends what you mean by “accessible”. Written text is not accessible to a visually impaired person. They would not be able to read one of your books, for example. But a text-to-speech app would unlock the book, as it were, and make it “accessible”

  2. ‘using plain English to make the work accessible to people who might normally be put off by modern art because they don’t understand it.’

    Thanks so much. I wonder if it’s possible to be more condescending than this sentence.

    • These people have negligible real talents, so have to compensate by being over-pretentious (while at the same time sponge off the state because their “work” isn’t popular enough for them to make a living off it).

    • I don’t see anything wrong with modern works of art being described and /or explained, in non-technical language, to people like me who don’t actually know much about it.

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