Q&A Update 10 February 2023
We want to be transparent about why we need funding and what it will be used for, so we have compiled this Q&A to answer questions and provide more detail.
Q: How much have you raised through the Crowdfunder and what’s the ongoing need?
A: We raised a total of £54,635 from the Crowdfunder, taking us past our minimum target of £50,000. This included £41,106 by direct donation and an additional £12,500 from a long-term supporter of Margate and its environs. An Instagram online art auction boosted this effort.
This will ensure all our current students can complete their courses this academic year and that our studios, exhibition space and facilities will remain open to the community. It will also enable us to implement our plans to secure the future of TMS in the long term.
We’re now looking to raise at least a further £100,000 from a range of funding sources to enable us to implement our full set of plans and cover utility costs that have more than quadrupled. This includes planning for and recruiting to our full range of courses in the new academic year, developing additional course provision and expanding our studio and technical facilities, exhibition and community space. It will contribute to a bursary fund to support our students, studio holders, fellows and other community members in accessing our technical training and facilities. Finally, it will enable us to reach out to diverse communities in Margate, building on our Tech Club provision for children and young people.
Q: What’s NO SURRENDER?
A: NO SURRENDER is a benefit gig weekender being organised on our behalf with DJ Carl Barât, DJ Woody Cook, IAMWARFACE, with guest drums by Steve Hewitt (ex Placebo), Dan Lyons & The Tenants, George Pelham, MC Kinky, Jen Nolan and Friends, local polyrockers Pink Suits and more! Get your tickets now.
Q: Why do you need so much money?
A: It costs more than £300,000 per year to run our courses, studios and exhibition spaces serving our artistic community of over 100 people and contributing to Margate’s creative and cultural offering. We raise nearly half of this through student and studio fees and services we provide. The remainder we need to generate through public funding and donations. As a not-for-profit organisation we operate on an extremely lean budget for the benefits we provide directly to the artistic community and more widely.
Q: What’s happening with the building? Isn’t it up for sale in June?
A: The building is up for sale and our current lease ends in June. However, we are in negotiation with the landlord and expect to keep the lease running until the building is sold. This could take months or even years. We are also in discussions with the Margate Creative Land Trust and other investors about securing the building for TMS in the long term.
Q: The Margate School has been awarded lots of funding over the last few years. What happened to that?
A: The funding that TMS initially received in November 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:
1) to 'deghost' the High Street and
2) form the kernel of a creative community hub providing resources for the 'Turner Effect' retinue with
3) 'social outreach' and educational and technical provision and as such conforming to the Local Plan endorsed by Thanet District Council and recognised by the then DCLG Ministry who approved the application.
The project was successfully completed, overachieving the project targets, and we have been able to expand and continue provision by generating around 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. Much of the equipment and materials that we use within TMS’s community have been donated to us and any profits are reinvested into the community.
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: We welcomed more than 100 visitors to our Transmutation exhibition and the exhibition space is now available for hire. Studio provision and technical facilities are continuing for the rest of the academic year.
Q: Will second-year MA Fine Art students, due to finish in July, be able to complete their course and get their qualification?
A: Yes, teaching, assessment and the final exhibition for second-year Fine Art MA students are now going ahead.
Q: What about those on the Design and Sound courses?
A: Our visual Communications and Sound Arts courses are back and running and students will be able to complete their studies.
Q: What will happen for first year MA Fine Art students?
A: The money raised so far means they can complete their first academic year and we are working to ensure that they will be able to complete their second year of studies, due to finish in June 2024.
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. An educational course is determined by the accreditation and assessment framework regardless of the number of students. Courses are normally therefore running at a loss but become self-sustaining once student numbers increase. Also each tutor 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 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. We have provided mentoring to a range of creatives and supported a number of community groups. As such we are contributing to building communities and helping indirectly with lessening the burden on public services including the NHS.
Q: What is the bursary fund for?
A: While we have some full fee-paying students and studio holders, many are not able to afford the full course costs. We set up The Margate School with a vision to make arts education and integrated learning accessible within this community and the bursary fund will enable more students to access our courses.
Q: Do you have a business plan?
A: The business plan assumes an increase in full-fee-paying students to reflect the true cost as much as possible, a substantive bursary fund to support those who can‘t afford the provision, alongside industry services plus public and charitable funds to support our community outreach activities and provision.
Q: What’s your vision for TMS in five years’ time?
A:We are using part of the funds raised to investigate and develop TMS as a democratic cooperative, such as a Community Benefit Society, which will have the option of issuing community shares.
The Margate School will offer a diverse interdisciplinary course provision in line with its liberal arts ethos and its values grounded in Art, Society, Nature. It will seek sufficient full fee paying students, learners and practitioners, and set up a bursary fund to support those who can’t afford the provision. It will put public and charitable funding in place for a coherently structured community outreach programme. As a School and community of makers, it will be part of the creative industries sustainable value chain and innovation flow. It will be a creative production facility, a space for diverse and caring communities to gather and explore ideas and showcase work. A place where creative and entrepreneurial people and groups from different disciplines can commence their ventures mindful of the complexities of sustainability, the often inseparable challenges of social justice and climate change. It is a School in and for Margate inspired by its European and international connections.
A small selection of the quotes from the many responses to our invitation to voice support for The Margate School can be read here