A £1.3million project to create a new cultural tourist trail and arts ‘treasure hunt’ along the South East coast has been given the green light.
Culture Coasting will target French and Dutch visitors with digitally marked tourist foot and cycle trail through Essex, Kent and East Sussex and bookable itineraries taking in art galleries and venues along the coast.
Along the route, visitors will be able to find geocaches of original artworks created by internationally renowned artists and book experiences in each of the destinations such as tours and artists talks. The project will also allow people to visit and stay in artists’ homes and studios.
The trail route will include Southend-On-Sea, Whitstable, Margate, Folkestone, Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne.
Visit Kent and Turner Contemporary have been awarded funding from VisitEngland’s Discover England Fund (DEF) and Arts Council England to launch the project, in partnership with several leading arts venues in the region.
VisitEngland awarded £350,000 from DEF for the three-year project, bringing the total amount to £1.3million including partner cash and in-kind contributions.
Director of Turner Contemporary Victoria Pomery OBE said: “We’re delighted to have secured Culture Destinations funding to deliver Culture Coasting. By truly putting arts and culture at the core of the project, we aim to create a unique, cohesive visitor offer which celebrates our distinctive coastline and significantly grows the visitor economy for the region.
This ambitious project will create an experiential trail, relevant to key markets, through digital technologies and partnerships across the South East.”
Turner Contemporary will lead on the arts content while Visit Kent will lead on building and marketing. Other funders include East Sussex County Council, Kent County Council, Southeastern Railway, Visit Essex, Medway Council, Visit Herts, The Historic Dockyard Chatham and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership. Project partners include, De La Warr Pavilion, Whitstable Biennial, Creative Foundation, Jerwood Gallery, Towner Art Gallery and Metal.
Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, Chief Executive of Visit Kent said: “We are thrilled that our bid has been successful, and that we have the chance to work with our partners at Turner Contemporary to bring this exciting cultural project to life.
“Culture Coasting brings together cultural leaders and tourism professionals to create a unique new visitor product.
“The South East coast is one of the most beautiful in Europe, and we now have an opportunity to celebrate both it and its incredible cultural heritage.
“More than 44% of visitors to Britain in 2016 stated ‘cultural attractions’ were their main motivator for choosing Britain as a holiday destination, and visits to museums and art galleries accounted for £889m of visitor spend that year alone.
“Our goal is to inspire international visitors who are interested in cultural adventures to go out and explore our coastline, and discover new art installations, stunning galleries and incredible characters and communities on the way.”