“We are committed to producing contemporary art of excellence, supporting artists’ practice, initiating cultural activity and feeding into Dover’s economy. We aim, with values of inclusiveness, thoughtful partnership and emotional responsibility, to strengthen communities and widen perspectives through creative thinking and actions.”

Dover Arts Development (DAD) is an artist-led not for profit limited company that functions as a collaborative, porous framework within which its artist directors conceive, manage & deliver ambitious projects of artistic excellence within the visual arts, poetry, writing, sound & music.

DAD advocates for and actively pursues a strategic role for the arts in placemaking, and for the benefits artists bring to Dover and the South East.

DAD’s founder directors Clare Smith and Joanna Jones were joined by Louisa Love who came in as director from September 2020 to June 2021 while Clare took a break. Clare is now back and Louisa has turned her full attention to managing DAD RADIO.

In December 2020 DAD was joined by eight ‘Guardians’: Alice Bryant, Charles Holland, Colin Priest, Edda Salander-Jones, Gabor Stark, Helen Lindon, Richard Bundy & Simon Bill. Their function is summed up in the term ‘guardian’ and the means is through a non-formalised structure where each, as well as helping steer DAD, can continue working on projects with DAD.

As a cultural producer DAD acts as a catalyst for cultural/artistic activity, developing long-term relationships that nurture inclusive cultural partnerships, inspiring an arts and cultural approach to building community resilience and nurturing the talent in individuals.

DAD connects and contributes through arts-led urbanism and lived practice to the lives of residents as well as visitors to Dover Town, Dover District, South East England, Europe and beyond.

DAD supports artists from elsewhere to find ways of making work in Dover, as well as supporting artists in Dover to meet visiting artists and take advantage of opportunities offered to them through DAD projects.

DAD has no core funding and financially operates on a project-by-project basis, successfully bidding for funding for its work since 2008 from national, European and local bodies. DAD has in-depth experience of managing multi-stranded projects with an ever-expanding range of partners and artists, and bringing in over £1m of investment into Dover.

Since its founding in 2008 DAD has worked with over 170 artists and with a range of business partners including: Arts Council England, Kent County Council, Dover District Council, Dover Town Council, Dover Museum, Destination Dover, Dover Big Local, Port of Dover, DFDS Seaways, Eurotunnel, South Eastern, National Trust, English Heritage, National Trails, Up On The Downs Landscape Partnership Scheme, White Cliffs Countryside Partnership, Kent Downs, Culture Kent, Turner Contemporary, Jasmin Vardimon Company, Marlowe, University for the Creative Arts, Creative Folkestone, Folkestone Fringe, Porchlight, The Land Trust, Dover Community Radio, Green pilgrimage Europe, Local Trust, Visit Canterbury, White Cliffs Country, Kent Community Foundation. (All logos with links attached to this page).

Graphic Design DAD has established, with graphic designer Edda Salander-Jones, an impactful and recognisable design language and continues to adapt future project-specific design work in line with its established DAD branding.

History After initially operating as an unincorporated 3-way partnership for 2 years with Christine Gist, DAD incorporated as a company limited by guarantee (not for profit) in 2008 with artists Joanna Jones and Clare Smith as directors.

In the Kent Creative Awards 2016, DAD won the Arts Organisation of the Year Award.

Dover Arts Development have consistently followed their vision for the past twelve years. Their artist-led approach has steadily informed the development of local artists and contributed to Dover’s regeneration. Their work has engaged with the landscape, buildings and people of Dover in thoughtful ways to reimagine the future. They act as a responsible and inclusive organisation to share this future with and for others. These values ensure that best practice and the benefits of their work is widely shared. This imaginative and thoughtful approach supports their sustainability as an organisation and a generosity that will take this vital work forward. Lucy Medhurst  Director (Ideas Test).

“Your energy, dedication and enthusiasm is extraordinary – and captures the imagination of others….You are masters of bringing people from varied, and one might assume opposing, parts of society together to bring energy to new ways of thinking about how we see the world and its possibilities. Your generosity with shared contacts, time and energy is extraordinary and makes others generous with each other”. Helen Lindon (Artist)

Becoming a contributor in Dover Arts Development’s Park Bench Project has put me in touch with other community-minded, creative people, and this has led to me finding opportunities for paid education work in community projects in Dover. Fiona Beddow (writer)

“One of the biggest challenges for PhD students is locating and gaining access to research participants. In my case, the time, imagination, and resources afforded to me by Dover Arts Development was invaluable in overcoming this obstacle. By contacting former Buckland Paper Mill workers about my project – itself ispired by their 2011 feature documentary Watermark –  I was fortunate enough to benefit from DAD’s ties and reputation within the local community, with former workers only too happy to talk to me about their time at the Mill thanks to my association with the organisation. I look forward to working with DAD in the future.” Paul Cook (University of Kent)

“DAD have proved themselves to be a trusted partner that has worked tirelessly to enhance the Arts and Cultural scene in Dover through active engagement with the Community.”   Nadeem Aziz   Chief Executive (Dover District Council)

“DAD has been brilliant in getting all sorts of people in Dover (who don’t “do” the Arts) involved in some brilliant and rather lovely projects. From wild planting on the seashore to giant round tables and miles of knitted bunting, Clare and Joanna have made Dover a better and brighter place to be. Behind the fun are 2 serious arts practitioners who bring gravitas and wonderful connections which Dover wouldn’t otherwise benefit from. We have been working together for nearly five years and look forward to many more.”  Allison Burton Town Clerk (Dover Town Council)

“The more I work with DAD, the more I see how everything they do fits together and complements each other. They are working towards a vision that is intrinsically linked to, and embedded in, a number of tourism, heritage, regeneration and art initiatives through which DAD are committed to working with and for the benefit of their local community. It is exciting to reveal another piece of this picture each time I learn more about the work of DAD.”  Sarah Corn (South East Museum Development Programme)

“Kent Arts and Culture Service have worked with Dover Arts Development (DAD) over a period of nearly 10 years in a highly productive partnership that has achieved significant growth and resilience in the Dover cultural sector. DAD have always delivered added value to projects beyond initial expectations of delivery and are one of the County’s outstanding creative producers. We highly recommend their work.”   Tony Witton Arts and Culture Manager (Kent County Council)

“I am delighted that ever increasing recognition is being given to the cultural and heritage base across the area and the contribution that this offers to the sense of place and coastal living for incoming investors and employers, businesses and visitors alike.”  Tim Ingleton, Head of Inward Investment (Dover District Council)

DAD is joint custodian, with Dover Museum, of The Dover Cultural Survey and Framework prepared by muf art/architecture consultants and which provides the guidelines and principles for the delivery of projects and activities that enrich the cultural life of the town. In this role DAD acts as an advocate for arts and culture.

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Art and other things

Thanks to South East Creatives and particularly Philippa Wall for giving Dover Arts Development the opportunity to further explore the different ways freelancers might choose to work together and why. [...]