At a pre-Covid DAN meeting in 2019, during a creative brainstorming session, we came up with two strong ideas which stuck out as being key concepts – one was to map the arts opportunities (and barriers) in the local area, and the other was to create some kind of mobile arts vehicle, which could take arts events and opportunities where they were most needed and wanted. These two concepts were brought together, and the Ice Cream Van Project was born…

A Mobile Art Initiative

We have developed an initial project which will facilitate us engaging in meaningful arts activities with the public, building on relationships with other local arts organisations, highlighting gaps in arts accessibility and culminating in a final showcase event of what we have learnt about the ways in which a mobile vehicle could improve accessibility for our highlighted audiences.

Through three artist-led workshops across the summer 2022, developed in partnership with key local organisations such as Darent Valley Landscape Partnership, Gravesham Arts Salon and Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, we will undertake a programme of artistic education, engagement and research, moving us further towards understanding how we can achieve our wider goals.

The whole project has been funded by Creative Estuary, and its why we at DAN are looking at future ways to bring the arts right into your neighbourhood, or even your street! That’s why we call it The Ice Cream Van initiative.

Mapping an area, broadening connections, and developing a wider, more collaborative art network along the estuary are all things we have felt passionate about since DAN began. This project will provide DAN with a legacy of opportunity to fulfil the potential of local artists and of the local ‘cultural landscape’.

Each workshop will be led by a different artist, who will devise things for you to make, do and learn, at the same time as exploring what else this makes you want to try, and what you would need to do that sometime in the future. They will use the central concept of the ‘mobile arts vehicle’ as a springboard to address issues of arts mobility with their specific audience (past/present and future, stories about, wishes for), using the art form designated for that workshop to guide, develop and give form to the discussions and ideas of participants – bringing these to life.

The creative outcome from each workshop will be a mixture of physical artworks – created both by the public and by the commissioned artist – written and recorded stories, and information gathered to inform and enhance mapping/relationship building. These outcomes will help identify the most effective, needed and desired ways of bringing art to the community and of forging links between people and organisations, centred on the concept of the DAN mobile art facility and how it can fulfil some of those needs.

Our final event in the Autumn will bring together as many as possible of those who have participated throughout the project and those with whom new connections have been made. By bringing together artists and other collaborators in the project this event will lay foundations for future, wider, network building along the estuary.