The Margate School secures £400k grant

The Margate School Photo Isabelle de Ridder

The Margate School has been awarded a capital grant of £400,000 by the Community Ownership Fund.

The Margate School’s new landlord has issued the group with a 25 year lease for former Woolworths building in the High Street where it has been based since 2019.

The funding means TMS can now undertake some of the urgent remedial work that the building needs and helps secure the future of the grassroot organization.

The Woolworths building stood empty for 11 years before The Margate School took up some space in 2019 and began to improve the site using its own funds while recycling donated materials, equipment and furnishings for around 80% of the interior.

Uwe Derksen (speaking) of The Margate School Photo Maria Gilbert

Uwe Derksen, Director and founder of The Margate School, said: “The fund from central Government allows the School to significantly improve its working environment and thus increase its value for the communities of Margate.

“The funding success is an important step in our mission to become an authentic community asset in and for Margate.

“Being awarded the capital grant comes at a great moment for us at the beginning of the new academic year and will no doubt inspire our new cohort of students. It is good to see how the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities continues to be confident in ‘The Margate School initiative’. My gratitude also goes out to all the local organisations and individuals who have supported the School and continue to believe in the School’s work.”

The funding will cover essential works, including the improvement of insulation and adding a heating system into the building, helping it to become a key creative hub for Margate and further afield.

The Margate School at the Woolworths building

James Shea, Chair of Trustees of The Margate School CIO, said: “This substantial grant from the Community Ownership Fund demonstrates the Government’s confidence in The Margate School as a model of community embedded education and knowledge exchange, helping us to nurture the next generation of socially and environmentally driven artists and designers, connecting people through our vibrant multi-disciplinary programmes and bringing communities together to forge better futures.

“It will firmly underpin The Margate School’s ability to build confidence with, and attract funding and investment from, patrons, donors and individual givers alongside public and charitable sources.”

At the beginning of this year a fundraising target of £50,000 to save The Margate School from immediate closure was raised in just three weeks.

TMS faced threat of closure after several recent funding bids failed to materialise but  was saved following fundraisers and the long lease from the new owner of its building .

The Government announced the list of successful applications yesterday (September 25).


  1. How much more money does this place need.Start charging the so called students to use it .Children’s education and sport need more funding than for this place

  2. An enormous tribute to what TMS achieved with its seedcorn £495K from the Coastal Communities Fund – demonstrating Economy, Enterprise and Expedition. Within 3 months of that grant TMS was already ‘producing’ and ‘the Ministry’ has duly recognised its considerable achievement on a shoestring.
    The aims of the Margate Coastal Community Team, which prioritised TMS, were to 1) help to ‘deghost’ the High Street, 2) support the burgeoning creative community and 3) provide a wider ‘community hub’ – following the Ruskinian slogan : ‘Art Society Nature’. As an unplanned ‘sideline’, it has found that its Gallery provides a welcome addition to the overall ‘visitor offer’ complementing the general cultural scene handsomely with eclectic shows (let alone annually hosting the Thanet Young Artists and Sandra Hampton’s estimable Art4All Disabilty Group.) .
    Would that the now defunct Town Deal Board had followed up this original initiative !
    HM The King has offered up excess rental income from the Crown Estate (all those new windfarms) for the ‘wider public good’ and one hopes that some of that income will go to resurrect the ‘grassroots’ with more Coastal Communities funding. The C of L crisis has widened the disparities in coastal peripheral economies – not just ‘Up North’.
    TMS should serve as a useful community placemaking role model for other districts – concerns over High Streets are resurfacing across the nation.

    Bravissimo TMS and get cracking on the central heating !

  3. At least they are in there and producing some educational services to students. More than can be said for Margate Digital which should have been opening its doors this month after having £7m of taxpayers money thrown at it.

  4. Originally, to kick start Town Deals, the Ministry offered up to £1 million according to population, for projects that could be completed in that financial year. Without reference to the new Town Deal Board (Chair G Razey of EKC) M Homer purloined £750K for the M&S building and without any clear published idea of what use it was for (other than preserving the fabric of the building in which TDC had a stake. It was only an innocent inquiry as to whether Margate had ‘missed the bus’ when Blackpool had secured £1 million and Great Yarmouth £750K (and a few others) that the situation became plain – some Town Deals publish Minutes in a timely fashion but it became eventually clear that a certain frostiness prevailed between Homer and Razey. Bad start. Towards the end of the financial year concerns were expressed that Margate would not finish whatever the project was and the blithe response was that all was tickety boo as Margate was a ‘special case.’
    The refurbishment of basics, starting some months late of course, was supposed to have been completed by Spring 2022. A suggestion that at least the local creatives might cover up the windows with changing artworks, thought a good idea by the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, was ignored and we now have a cover up which ‘proudly’ boasts the Margate Town Deal Board. You can search in vain through Minutes when they eventually get published for reference to Margate Digital which lies in limbo – despite a joint presentation by purported partners EKC and TMS at a regeneration conference in May last year.
    How much of that initial Town Deal £750K was lost in ‘admin’ and ‘scoping’ we shall never know but as far as one knows that’s the cost to date. Development of M&S never featured in the Town Deal itself.
    Subsequently, when a new Levelling Up Fund per constituency was announced, TDC sought to exclude Margate (Thanet North) on the grounds that it would prejudice Ramsgate (who would never forget.) A last minute change of administration meant that ‘the Officer’ was told to get a move on with the Margate bid for the Digital operation and £6 millions or so was secured ( though not as yet expended as not received). In retrospect Margate could have bid for a few more millions – think of the Old Town Hall and a chap called J M W Turner who is q well known internationally if not in Cecil Sq, the Tudor House site, Sam Causer’s imaginative redesign of Cecil Sq as a community friendly asset …) A sorry tale.
    If EKC has thrown in the towel – as mentioned elsewhere it may have overextended and doubtless this is a demographic problem (not enough willing youth) then there is now the opportunity under the new dispensation to reshuffle monies elsewhere (WG, T Royal ?) especially if you think Dreamland has had its fair run to attract private investment – whatever happened to that Seafront Hotel lauded some years back with gin flowing freely ? The site was advertised a couple of years ago with a reserve of £50m but then no takers but fortunes change and Margate does become a popular ‘staycation’ destination. I have a cousin who fled from Spain to England to bask in 30 degrees when he couldn’t stand 45 ! We live in hope but whether the new Oversight Dispensation will only exacerbate ‘remoteness’ from the ground one may be excused a certain scepticism perhaps. And to the potential £4 million ‘liberated’ from Margate Digital some might question whether the Creative Land Trust’s £6 millions oughtn’t to be ‘reshuffled’ when we already have a ‘wheel’ in TMS ? It has taken some 3 years to get nowhere very fast and M Gove is up against it !

  5. You do know that it is a fee paying situation
    The previous owners took kcc money and ran off with it.

    You cannot keep begging for money TMS get your own.
    Cost of living crisis

  6. Of course they are-something that bleeds money has been on life support for ages & only kept afloat from a rich donor/fund me.

    Winter Gardens-something that is actually an asset gets 300k, a place where people can scribble doodles & stick things on walls gets 400k

    • If I may clarify any misapprehension may have unwittingly engendered :
      In the beginning, TDC sought to offer up to ‘the Ministry’ a Thanet Coastal Community Team but were told that a resort specific was required. No problem for Ramsgate and Broadstairs as they had Town Councils and TDC appointed the Margate Charter Trustees, Margate Town Team and Margate Neighbourhood Plan Forum to comprise Margate CCT.
      These components were having difficulties and the deadline for submitting the Margate Economic Plan was looming. As the then Secretary of the Margate Civic Society I was designated Co-ordinator as best placed for liaison. It didn’t take too much brain to realise that priorities were High Street and Education and there had already been cooking an initiative for an art school to follow up the ‘ Turner Effect’ and reinforce our growing ‘creative community’. A fully worked out scheme to take over the BHS/Primark store (ideal for Turner sunsets) had already been devised and was readily adopted by the CCT as the prime object for the Economic Plan. What should have been a ‘community led’ project was soured by TDC on a frolic of its own sponsoring other projects (it was in the old days of ‘dysfunctionality’) and in the event our bid was unsuccessful. Subsequently in the next round TMS, lacking substantial premises, could only bid for the ‘fast track’ up to £500K. It came out top of the very first approved tranche. So it is pleading to think that we lurked in the recesses of the Ministerial memory – as the latest upgrade grant also illustrates.
      My commitment to TMS stems from the beginnings – at the risk of sounding horribly pompous I have only that ‘honour bound’ investment. I am not strictly a member of TMS staff but a volunteer ‘uncle’, have never drawn any income (whether by way of remuneration or ‘expenses’) but offer what I can on an honorary basis. Given the exiguous staff resources probably my most useful contribution lies in assisting stewarding exhibitions but also keeping an eye out for potential funding sources.
      It is therefore currently with some pride that I survey TMS’s achievements despite all the vicissitudes to date and its breakthrough into a more stable future contributing to the general wellbeing and ‘civic pride’ (which is what Margate Civic Society – as all civic societies of course have as their motivation.)
      A third ‘regeneration’ symposium is being set up for November and we have assembled a strong team of speakers including the Secretaries of the Left Behind and Coastal Communities All Party Parliamentary Groups, reflecting our wider interests in the district and its potential.

    • RL ,agree,it’s community lead ,as long ,as it keeps getting public money.Why not charge students for the use of said premises, as children have to do for sports clubs

  7. ‘Fraid not RL – please see my recent response to Mike. I can be as cynical as the next man but in this instance there is nothing mercenary on my part. Honest Injun. Altruism isn’t entirely dead.

  8. I have said before and believe that the arty folk who keep asking for grants are basically just enjoying a hobby. If their art cannot be made to pay for itself then they should get themselves a real job and just do their art as a hobby. The way the rest of us do with our own hobbies.

    If the government as £400K for this sort of funding, the I believe it should be given to KCC for other projects which have recently had their funding cut and which are surely far more essential. Here are a just a couple which have recently appeared in articles on this website.

    Young people and staff from Ramsgate’s Pie Factory Music have protested today (August 22) against proposed cuts to commissioned youth services by Kent County Council (KCC).

    Parents, councillors and supporters have rallied against Kent County Council plans to close Priory Children’s Centre on Cannon Road – and with it, the in-demand Explorers Nursery- and Callis Grange Nursery in Broadstairs.

    The Pavilion Youth & Community Café in Broadstairs – Kent County Council proposals to withdraw funding for commissioned youth services by next March

  9. its 4 grand a year for a masters course there.
    They also rent out studio spaces for 200 quid a month.

    How do they keep haemorrhaging money? It’s not like its London costs for commercial rents is it?
    It’s clearly a poorly ran organisation and this taxpayer money will get spaffed up the wall on paper mache crow sculptures or other mindless not needed junk.
    Really should undergo some proper investigation before handing this kind of money over, in 6 months time TMS will be in the gutter yet again.

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