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Canterbury spouts nonsense, Herne Bay fountain of wisdom. Nobody surprised.

#FUCCC Our Council’s Culture & Enterprise bureaucrats seem to think they know what Guardian readers are interested in (how?), but I put it to you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that Guardian journalists have a much clearer picture of what interests their readers.

In fact, they’ve already said that they’ll be coming to Herne Bay to cover this summer’s marvellous Duchamp Centenary celebrations… FOR THEIR READERS.

Arts festival will bring Guardian journalists to Herne Bay

Guardian readers may not be tempted by the town but the paper’s reporters will be heading to Herne Bay this summer.

Staff from the art and travel section of the national newspaper
are planning to cover the three-week festival dedicated to artist Marcel
Duchamp and his links with the town, amid a storm over an advert that
praised Whitstable and Canterbury but left out Herne Bay.

Tourism chiefs, who paid up to £10,000 for the full-page
feature in the Guardian’s travel section, say they were concentrating on
the brands most likely to attract Guardian readers. But at a meeting organised by the team behind the August
festival, they revealed the paper’s journalists were looking forward to
their visit.

The festival marks 100 years since Duchamp spent a month in Herne Bay, a period believed to be critical to his career. Volunteer Sue Austen, from Bayguide, which is behind the
festival, said it could be a boost to the whole town. Southeastern
trains have agreed to display posters on board. She said:

“It will hopefully encourage people to Herne Bay who have not been before. It will be covered by the Guardian arts section and Guardian
travel section and is already listed in Coast magazine as one of the top
things to do this summer.”

Sue revealed both Kent County Council and Visit Kent had readily
offered support, but said “conversations were ongoing” with Canterbury
City Council, who have so far offered to waive the rent on the Kings
Hall for a one-day conference to discuss the artist’s work.

Steve Coombes, who stood in the KCC elections to raise awareness
of the festival, added:

“Charlotte Higgins is the chief arts writer of
the Guardian and we have been in enthusiastic communication about the
Marcel Duchamp Centenary, by email and phone, since last October. The
same is also true of the Times, Telegraph and BBC arts. Unlike the CCC dept of Culture and Enterprise, they were all thrilled by the idea.”

Members of the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain are also
planning to take part, after Ralph Steadman created a one-off design for
a promotional poster. They will create cartoons for toilets, pubs and other places and
there will also be quotes from Duchamp in unusual places around the town
and themed window displays from shops.

David Cross, who will be curating the gallery shows, said:

would like to make it successful to show them that Herne Bay can be –
and has got to be – equal to Whitstable and Canterbury.”

Other events planned include an open exhibition at Beach House
from July 11 and introducing Mr D at Herne Bay Museum from July 16.
Invited artists will show their work at galleries around the town from
July 23 and there will also be an art bike trail.

Children can take part in workshops and add their own designs to
postcards for a pop-up gallery, and live music, street theatre and chess
games are also planned.

Jason Hollingsworth, from Bayguide, said:

“There is a huge
cultural legacy to this. There will be a trail and a plaque on the house
where he stayed in Downs Park.”

For more information on the festival, or to get involved as a volunteer, visit www.iamnotdead.co.uk

Canterbury Times 24th May 2013

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