The Folkestone Triennial is called “Double Edge”, as in “double edged sword“, so says the Curator, Lewis Biggs (pictured)
The duality he speaks about in his youtube video can easily been seen as the public and the private, more specifically for us, public and private money. When you look at the 2017 Triennial brochure you can see the sponsors come from both realms, SAGA, Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, Shepway, District Council and the Arts Council to name but a few.
The 2017 Triennial is supported by public money raised from public taxes. Does the Triennial give the taxpayer value for money in return? Public money/taxes have supported the Triennial since its inception in 2008; and from the Arts Council alone the Creative Foundation (CF) – who put on the Triennial – have been awarded a little over £5 million for the Triennial and other projects.
You can see that between 2018/19 – to 2022/23 the Creative Foundation will receive a further £400,000 a year from the public purse. Some of this money will be for the Triennial in 2020, the rest for other projects.
There are those who have opined that the 2017 Triennial has delivered “underwhelming art and contempt for the viewer“. It would appear that the CF may have nothing but contempt for their hosts – those who look after the pieces – as on Saturday 9th September, those exposed to the elements all but nigh on froze for the sake of art.
That aside, art is personal. One person’s meat is another person’s poison. But we think the graph below is a work of art, as it shows how a rich “philanthropist” has year after year drawn down public money for one of his “pet projects“, when he has deep enough pockets to fund it himself. But that’s just our opinion.
One of the artists displaying at the Triennial 2017 is Richard Woods (pictured). His six “Holiday Homes” are dotted around the town. In his Interview with The Guardian, Wood was asked:
“What can Folkestone tell us about wider trends across the Country?”
It’s a compressed version of the UK: all those issues that are prevalent everywhere are kind of heightened. On a clear day we can see Calais – when you see where “abroad” is, it makes it more terrifying in a way. Folkestone has very broad, different economic groups and because of its proximity to London people are moving here wanting a second home. People have asked if the homes are going to be for local residents or just people from London.
Figures for “second homes” in Shepway, not just Folkestone have been increasing since 2010 and it’s those “Down From London” (DFL’s) who are snapping them up, according to local estate agents we have spoken to. As Woods makes clear in his youtube video “one person’s holiday home means somebody doesn’t have a home.” So a local is driven out displaced by a DFL.
Another work of art is the chart below which shows second home ownership across the districts of Kent & Medway.
We believe the chart above is a work of art, but of course you can disagree, but it clearly shows that “second home ownership” is on the increase in Ashford, Canterbury and Shepway Districts.
Now for those of you who might not be aware, Sir Roger (pictured) and his accomplices will pay to construct 1000 new homes on Folkestone Seafront and to do this they will have drawn down a lot of public money to enable this. These houses and & commercial spaces will change the sky line of Folkestone forever. But more importantly how many of the homes will become second homes and remain an oasis of darkness throughout the winters to come?
We know only 8%, or 80 homes of the 1000 will be “affordable homes“. The average price of a home in Folkestone is £257,089 according to Zoopla and the average wage in Folkestone is £25,044 according to the Social Market Foundation’s: Living on the edge: Britian’s Coastal Communities recent study (Sept 2017).
So if you put the figures above into the Halifax Mortgage Calculator a single person (with £400 outgoings each month) would not be eligible for a mortgage to buy a home in Folkestone. A couple would, but only just. As interest rates WILL rise sometime in the future, how long would a couple have a home before falling into negative equity?
So does Richard Wood, the Triennial artist have a point about second homes and affordable homes? We think he does, but not just for Folkestone, but for Shepway and the Country as a whole.
Multiple property ownership is still a minority sport, but a growing one that represents a significant boost to the wealth pots of those lucky enough to own second homes. The proportion of adults owning multiple properties has jumped by 30% since 2000, according to the Resolution Foundation
Finally, some say that Sir Roger is nothing more than a property developer (page 17 onwards), “buying Folkestone/Shepway’s love with his philanthropic donations to local charities, to enable his vision.” This has lead some to say that because of these “philanthropic donations” one cannot and must not criticise Sir Roger. But his development is part of the problem as it will enable more people to buy second homes and push locals out of the local property market, which is what Richard Wood’s point is.
Sir Roger’s development (pictured above) will only add to this growing disaster and if he really cares about Folkestone & Shepway, he should we believe increase the number of affordable homes across his development and stop pleading poverty, via his financial viability assessment. Oh and prevent – if possible – any of the homes in his development from becoming second homes.
We do not think it’s wrong to demand a development scheme of any size enhances the quality of our lives. We do not think it’s wrong to oppose development. In this way it turns out our negativity is really a mask for our positive wish for all of us to live our lives free from those who pretend to act in our interests; but are only ever about giving more of what we’ve got (public money) away to those who already have too much!
The Shepwayvox Team