Grunge graffiti wallImage by ShonEjai from Pixabay

2020 – The year of creative adaption

The global pandemic has impacted the Creative Estuary project, the same as it has for everyone else. And like everyone else we have had to learn to be more adaptive and implement creative methods to achieve our goals.

Needless to say this does not mean that we can slow down, but the 12 month extension granted to us by DCMS at the end of 2020 has given us time to reflect and take stock – and the opportunity to reach more people.

Our brand launch, alongside that of the Estuary 2021, saw more than 300 virtual attendees; a huge success. And the workshops undertaken in support of our brand development, involving over 100 people from education, public sector, developers and investors, creative and cultural organisations, artists and young people, all took place online meaning we could more easily draw from across the estuary and further afield.

But that was 2020. What is to come in 2021? Put simply, lots!

Estuary 2021 is a large-scale arts festival curated in response to the spectacular Thames Estuary and the lives, landscapes and histories found there. Taking place over 23 days (22 May – 13 June 2021), the mix of large scale and intimate visual art, literature, music and film celebrates culture, creativity, recovery and renewal. Alongside an online discussion and events programme, the physical programme will explore and respond to powerful themes resonant to the Estuary, from the climate, to rebellion and imperial legacy. Re-framed in light of Covid-19, the festival invites visitors to take an epic walk along the stunning coastline of South Essex and North Kent encountering contemporary artworks and performance within the estuary landscape, historic sites and coastal towns.

The festival will also showcase the talents of artists across the region through the Associated Programme, including our first Creative Estuary Commissions in Gravesend, Medway, Tilbury and Southend.

Having awarded their second tender at the end of 2020 our partners at Ebbsfleet Development Corporation will bring forward a comprehensive Meanwhile Plan for Ebbsfleet Garden City.  Earlier this month I spoke at the ‘Come to Ebbsfleet Garden City’ event, you can watch the playback sharing our ambition with over 100 attendees.

The first phase of our Docking Station feasibility study is complete and very soon we will be launching an architectural competition, to develop the concept to RIBA Stage 3.

Estuary 2021 graphic banner artworkEstuary 2021
Ebbsfleet Interchange BoulevardImage courtesy of

Our team tasked with demonstrating the role that art and culture can play in planning and place-making, will be announcing the members of its advisory group and we are delighted to have appointed Max Farrell of the London Collective as the external Chair.

Ideas Labs start in the Spring with the first two topics confirmed as Wellbeing and Environment. These events will bring together individuals and groups – academics, artists and businesses – to share ideas and knowledge, and explore culture-led solutions to contemporary issues across the Estuary. Each lab will be delivered virtually over three facilitated half-day sessions with approximately 25 participants. Watch this space for information on how you can get involved.

We’re going to tell the world about our amazing Creative Estuary champions who supported our launch event so brilliantly. Look out for them on our website.

And finally, through Re:Generation 2031 it is our ambition to develop the next generation of cultural and creative leaders and transform young lives through creative opportunities and experiences. Our first cohort of 15 young people will be placed within creative organisations over the next couple of months

After a year of delays and interruptions when we had to rethink, reconfigure and re-profile, you can see that we maintained our momentum, have embraced an adaptive approach to all that we do and are continuing to deliver our milestones and outcomes.

Here at Creative Estuary, we’d love to hear your stories of how you creatively adapted in 2020. Please share your stories on our social media channels listed below.

LinkedIn / Twitter

Group creative discussion
Written by

Emma Wilcox headshot

Emma Wilcox
Project Director