Blue Light

Blue Light is the inaugural initiative of the Coastal Community Fund (CCF) project by The Margate School.

The Blue Light started in November 2018 with an objective to reach out to the local community in Margate and engage them in the imagining of the CCF project and its future impact on the Margate High Street.

It commenced with a series of meetings and workshops discussing the current issues in the High Street, seeking collaborative creative responses to address the issues. The approach of ‘open development’ allowed a number of local actors including business owners from the High Street to engage in and witness the process of creative production.

Many ideas deriving from the local community have been included and even led to the development of the first ventures of the CCF project. There are three pathways that emerged from the initiative which continue to develop and are included in the TMS programming for 2019/20.
Pathway 1 Festive Light Photos
One of the issues that was discussed during the conversations with the local community was a lack of festive lighting in the High Street, which resulted in business owners using blue lighting to decorate shop windows. What emerged from this discussion is a series of portraits of people from the local community drawing on the discussed motif of ‘blue light’ and the issue of communication and connectivity of the High Street. The ‘Blue Light’ portraits were installed in the empty shop windows of the former M&S building on the High Street and the display was developed in collaboration with the Thanet District Council (TDC) directly addressing the issue of empty ‘ghost shops’ on the High Street. Drawing on the great feedback from the local community and success of the display we are currently in conversation with TDC and private empty shop owners on the High Street to expand the concept and involve more empty shops in a larger scale ‘Blue Light Portraits’ High Street exhibition planned for December 2019.
   
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Pathway 2 Free Tree
As part of Pathway 2 we have distributed free Christmas trees, which were used to decorate the space of the CCF project launch event in December, among the local shops in the High Street. The idea was to create a common element of the festive display between the lower and upper part of the High Street with an aim of creating a visual incentive of connection between the two – disconnected as reported by the local community - areas.

When in discussion with the community an issue that arose was one of a feeling of a lack of safety within the community. This part of the project proved to be an interesting social experiment, as even in the areas of the High Street which the community feel are unsafe the trees which were left outside of shops remained undisturbed- something to reflect on in terms of the potential further development of this pathway.
Pathway 3 Artists For Homeless
In this pathway, The Margate School worked with Thanet Winter Shelter and the North London Darkroom to raise funds in support of the homeless in Thanet. At the CCF Project Launch event, Sebastian Edge from the North London Darkroom set up his large-format camera and mobile darkroom, offering people “tenner types” - a small portrait made in a real film plate camera and processed in chemistry while on site. The donations in return for the photographs were collected for the Thanet Winter Shelter to support homeless people sleeping rough on the High Street and elsewhere in Margate.