This was an extraordinary opportunity for collaboration provided by Prosper, which was an East Kent initiative organised by Workers of Art, The Map Consortium and Canterbury Festival.
Prosper set up a website where interested parties could post their details and then invited applications for funding from any group of at least three individuals or organisations. Artist Pat Wilson Smith and I were both approached by actor and artist Adam de Ville to create something that would link tourist information – the public perception or promotion of an idealised version of a place – to the actual lives of and stories of people living there.
Our collaboration consisted largely of thinking through, brainstorming, talking, visiting, re-visiting ideas about how to disseminate information that people living locally (or more adventurous visitors) might want, as well as how to link commerce, tourism and the needs of local people. We started by collecting ideas and stories, and moved on to an event that introduced life-size customisable sign-posts to the streets. The signs were hated by some and loved by others, and Workers of Art, at least, were interested in re-using them for their Wise Words Festival and other events.
It was great to work with Adam and Pat, and their approach to the project as artists from different mediums taught me to re-think my assumptions and recognise that words are not always the best way to communicate!
Prosper, meanwhile, is going from strength to strength, as the name implies.