Following last week's news that The Margate School is under threat of closure after several recent funding bids failed to come to fruition, we have launched a Crowdfunder to save The Margate School.
Since the announcement, we have been overwhelmed by the many messages of support from our community and beyond. At the time of writing this, we have received over 200 personal comments and offers of help.
Many of you have asked how you can contribute financially, so we have launched the Crowdfunder to help us manage donations. Again we are calling on you to help us with this. You can directly help, by spreading our message far and wide and encouraging all donations, no matter the amount offered.
We also want to be transparent about why we need the funding and what it will be used for, so we have compiled this Q&A to answer your questions and provide more detail, as we have been asked lots of questions already and we hope that these will help you in answering them.
Q: How much money are you looking to raise?
A: We're initially looking to raise £50,000 to stabilise, continue current teaching provision and implement future plans.
Q: The Margate School has been awarded lots of funding over the last few years and earns money through student and studio holder fees. What happened?
A: The funding that TMS initially received in 2018 through the Coastal Community Fund was to set up the school and technical facilities and to support students, studio holders and the community over a two year period. The project was successfully completed and we have been able to expand and continue provision by generating 50% of our budget independently and 50% through additional public funding. Unfortunately, further public funding has not materialised and some of our independent income has suffered through COVID and the cost-of-living crisis, putting us in the situation we now face. As a not-for-profit school with an asset lock in place, we operate on an extremely lean budget and any profits we might make go back into our community. Much of the equipment and materials that we use within TMS’s community have been donated to us.
Q: What’s happening to the studios, exhibition space and other facilities – will studio holders, fellows and community groups still be able to access them?
A: Currently we have a final exhibition - Transmutation - running from Thursday 12th January and we would love to see you there. Gallery space will then be unavailable. Studio provision and technical facilities will be wound down over the next six months. £50,000 would enable us to reinstate current bookings, including a number of community bookings, and continue full provision for the rest of the academic year.
Q: Will second-year MA students, due to finish in July, be able to complete their course and get their qualification?
A: Yes, we have had private offers of donations to ensure the teaching, assessment and final exhibition can go ahead.
Q: What about those on the design and sound courses?
A: At this stage (11 January) we still need more money to enable us to restart these courses and see them through to completion. We need to raise the minimum of £50,000 to enable this.
Q: What will happen for first year MA students?
A: The £50,000 would enable them to complete their first academic year and we would work with partners to ensure they can complete their second year of studies.
Q: Why do we have so many staff and tutors for this number of students?
A: All staff are part time and all tutors are sessional. Each brings their own expertise and specialisms relevant to supporting the diverse creative community of TMS. This support extends to our wider community of learners including studio holders, fellows and community participants on our courses. This has allowed TMS to develop a mutually supportive and collaborative creative community with reach beyond its walls into the neighbourhood and surrounding communities.
Q: How many volunteers do we have?
A: We have two or three regular volunteers and more than 20 occasional volunteers equating to 2.5 FTE over the year, additionally staff give time outside of their working hours.
Q: What’s the relationship with a university in France and will it continue?
A: Our partners, École Supérieure d’Art et Design Le Havre-Rouen (ESADHaR), a higher education art school in Normandy, accredits our two year MA programme and continues to support us.
Q: With the cost-of-living crisis and essential services like the NHS and energy in crisis, couldn’t this money be better spent in the community?
A: The money TMS receives builds resilience within the creative community and the surrounding neighbourhood, making it safer, contributing positively to mental health and wellbeing, providing a support structure and a springboard for people’s professional creative careers. We are the only creative organisation in Margate that has offered a creative apprenticeship, putting time and resources into the development of young people.
Q: What is the ongoing funding need for The Margate School and where do you expect it to come from if we do manage to save the school now?
A: The school has a turnover of £300,000 per year. Half of this is generated from public funding and donations. The other half is earned independently through student and studio fees and services provided. Many of the people we are supporting are unable to afford full fees for the provision we provide and we want to make arts education and integrated learning accessible within this community. For the next five years, we need ongoing funding to support our work and set up a bursary fund to enable this to continue.
Q: Do you have a business plan?
A: The business plan assumes an increase in full-fee-paying students, a substantive bursary fund to support those who can‘t afford the provision, alongside industry services plus public and charitable funds to support the community-reachout provision.
Q: What’s happening with the building? Isn’t it up for sale in June?
A: We are in discussions with the Margate Creative Land Trust and other investors to discuss securing the building for TMS.
Q: Assuming The Margate School can be saved, what’s your vision for TMS in five years’ time?
A: The vision is to operate TMS as a democratic co-operative owned by community shares; housed in the current building with a long term secure tenure; possibly owned by the community; a greater course offer with sufficient full-fee-paying student; a bursary fund to support those who can’t afford the provision; public and charitable funding in place for a coherent community outreach programme; to be part of the creative industries value chain and innovation flow as a creative production facility; a space for diverse communities to gather and explore ideas and showcase work.
A small selection of the quotes from the many responses to our invitation to voice support for The Margate School
"My children have enjoyed and learnt much from the Margate Tech Club events. The development of those involved in art and technology are key to local economics and building accessible community resources to support them will only bring positive results."
Bob Gray, Margate Resident
On a personal level, TMS has been amazing for my mental health - working with passionate and inspiring people. It has made me feel like I can actually make a difference in the community I grew up in and want to give back to - something too often absent from mainstream educational environments."
Dr David Nettleigham, Sociologist in Residence at The Margate School
"I'm worried about the impact that will have on Margate and the South East as a whole! It feels like the biggest loss after years of losing so much already!"
Zara Truss Giles, Sound Society Nature Student at The Margate School
"I have seen everyone welcomed into the arms of the School, from artists to vulnerable adults, all are equal, valued, honoured and respected."
Carla Knight, Artist in Residence at The Margate School
"In the 3 years that TMS has been opened, it has become an icon of our town."
Cllr Barry Lewis, Kent County Council Councillor
"I have found my productivity, inspiration, motivation and confidence has slowly grown in the short time I have been a fellow at The Margate School"
Laura Marsh, Fellow at The Margate School
"As a Margate resident, I feel proud of the school being here. It is a great community resource"
Julia Caves, Fellow at The Margate School
“Over the past two years, I have employed/commissioned work from seven people I met at the school. At least half of whom grew up in the area & are looking to establish a durable & rewarding career outside of hospitality.”
Meriel Hunt, Studio Holder
"TMS has opened the door for me to learn new skills with inspiring and professional tutors and TMS has a fabulous creative ethos both of which are priceless."
Carolyn Blake, Studio Holder
"The fact that it is a school and studios for artists gives further opportunities to learn from each other."
Vicki Salmi, Studio Holder