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Stour Valley Arts to Leave Lasting Legacy



It was announced today that the Stour Valley Arts (SVA), which released news of its closure earlier this year, is to leave a lasting and living legacy in the King’s Wood area of Kent, where it operated.

Over a twenty one year period, the organisation, whose mission was to enable people to explore contemporary art within the natural and historical context of the ancient woodland setting of King’s Wood, has commissioned artworks within the forest, presented a series of exhibitions at a dedicated studio space in Ashford, undertaken arts education work externally and commissioned a series of published work. Following the announcement last February that the respected Kent environmental public art company was to close its doors, having lost its Arts Council of England funding, the board of trustees have spent the year finding replacement bodies to take over its much valued work.

The trustees, headed by Maggie Anwell, have now brought together Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership, The University for The Creative Arts in Canterbury, Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and University of Kent who will form an separate advisory partnership. Together they will maintain the legacy of SVA by preserving and maintaining the existing artworks in King’s Wood, create an archive of the published work, to be housed in the University for The Creative Arts in Canterbury, continue to run the SVA studio space in King’s Wood and in time look to commission new work for the King’s Wood area.

The legacy initiative will be supported by Ashford Borough Council, Kent County Council and The Forestry Commission.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Stour Valley Arts, Maggie Anwell says.

“We wish the new team every success in continuing the artistic legacy of Stour Valley Arts. We are confident that the expertise and loyalty of all those artists who have contributed to the unique vision of art in the environment will continue to play a part in the future. We are grateful to all those who have pledged their support for this enterprise and look forward to the new programme in King’s Wood and beyond”.

Cllr Jeremy Blanford, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Environment, Ashford Borough Council says

“I would like to thank the new team of partners, assisted by Ian Ross of the Jasmin Vardimon Company, for working so hard to retain the integrity of Stour Valley Arts and successfully supporting the transition of the organisation to this exciting new venture. Our residents have enjoyed for decades the inspirational art created in and around Kings Wood, and we look forward to encouraging new outstanding creative work and opportunities for many years to come”

Dr Terry Perk, Associate Head for the School of Fine Art and Photography at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury says:

“Moving forward; King’s Wood, the sculptures commissioned in it and the Forest Studio still offer a wonderful opportunity for young artists to engage with their practices and public art in a unique context. This is something we’re very much looking forward to engaging our students with over the coming years, both on site and through their engagement with the legacy of SVA in the form of its archive, which is currently be assessed before becoming available to access at our university library in Canterbury.”

Jon Shelton / Partnership Manager / Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership:

‘The Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership was instrumental in establishing Stour Valley Arts in 1993 and so feels a certain responsibility for the existing artwork in King’s Wood. We are looking forward to working with artists and others in the local community using King’s Wood as a base in a new partnership of organisations working together’.

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