I didn't know Bar Vasa were moving out of the Cheesegrater, I don't get out much these days... the only times I have been there there was no-one in there, but then Tontine Street is still a bit of a stretch to picture as an ideal spot for a sophisticated evening. The "creative quarter" of Folkestone does seem to have stalled a bit doesn't it. Damn recession!
Having traded in Antiques and Fine & Applied Art for over 20 years and after running a Gallery in Canterbury in a good position near The Marlowe Theatre for ten years with wide experience of fine, collectable and quality items; a good cohort of willing staff and substantial stock, I was thinking of opening a second gallery in Margate's Old Town. Sadly, as predicted, the Turner Contemporary project in Margate stalled. Having heard of the regeneration of the Folkestone I investigated and was so drawn by the town with its various and interesting architecture; its unique light, sense of space and fine views I sold up in Canterbury and moved here.
I was excited by the chance of opening a much smaller Gallery within the Creative Quarter. I took a shop in The Old High Street for a few months as a tenant of the Creative Foundation but regret the decision for multiple reasons which included the high rent which was almost twice that per useable sq.ft. of my previous Gallery in Canterbury and it proved to be unfit for retail purpose. Still keen to continue trading in the Creative Quarter I took a much larger shop from a sensible commercial landlord at a rent which is a mere fraction of that charged by the Creative Foundation, a registered charity.
Sadly footfall has only increased, if at all, minimally and I have decided while continuing my business not to have premises.
During the past 27 months I have hosted around 17 exhibitions of which many proved successful and while I invited trustees, directors and staff of the Creative Foundation they have noticeably been absent.
I held an Art Exhibition in conjunction with Canterbury College and the Kent & Medway NHS Trust and while its Chief Executive drove from Maidstone to attend there was no support from the CF.
There was no representation from the CF at an exhibition of work by students from Arc 25, here in Tontine Street though I gather the organiser personally invited the then Chief Executive.
A director of the CF which employs only a few dozen people earns more than the chief Executive of Oxfam employing 6,000 people and is also a Trustee supervising his own job.
While I continue to support what I see as the aims of this regeneration I cannot continue to trade here.
My next Exhibition will be on 27th & 28th March 2010 at The Grand on The Leas Folkestone
The Neville Pundole Gallery presently at 39 Tontine Street Folkestone Kent CT20 1JT
Thanks for support ....