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Gravesend LV21 lightship lit up as historic vessel eyes up future Arts Council backing

Art and culture leaders met aboard a historic sea vessel last week to discuss its role in the future development of the town.

The LV21 is a 40 metre steel-hulled lightship which has been transformed into a floating arts space in Gravesend.

Members of Arts Council England meets with LV21 co-owners Päivi Seppälä and Gary Weston.(18183905)
Members of Arts Council England meets with LV21 co-owners Päivi Seppälä and Gary Weston.(18183905)

It has been permanently docked in the town since 2017 having previously been moored at Gillingham Pier in Medway.

The iconic red lightship was originally commissioned as a navigation vessel and hosts a range of community arts projects, gigs and events.

It will be lit up this weekend (11-13 October) as part of an event exploring Kent's coastline and relationship with art.

The ongoing Citizen Ship project has been funded by the Arts Council and is themed around identity, nationality, and the free movement of people, goods and ideas.

Darren Henley, the chief executive of the Arts Council was welcomed aboard by co-owners, Päivi Seppälä and Gary Weston to discuss future grants and exciting new projects.

The historic LV21 lightship is lit up this weekend as part of a reflect arts and minds project. Photo: Jason Arthur (19167905)
The historic LV21 lightship is lit up this weekend as part of a reflect arts and minds project. Photo: Jason Arthur (19167905)

The Arts Council chief was joined by Simon Hookway, assistant director for communities at Gravesham council to discuss the importance of art and culture to Gravesend's future development.

Standing in the look out room overlooking the Thames he said: "Gravesend has a really powerful story to tell owing to it's unique position on the Thames Estuary.

"The local authority has been working really hard with us. They want Gravesend to be a great place to live as well as a great place to come and visit."

Päivi Seppälä explained how art and culture can be great ways to open dialogues within changing communities and strike up conversations.

"Art and culture brings people together," she added.

"We get lots of first time visitors and they don't always know someone. They just need that chance."

Mr Henley also met with Dartford Council leader Jeremy Kite and art project leaders in Chatham during his time in North Kent.

"It was rewarding to hear Jeremy Kite talk in Dartford about the role that arts and culture has in making our towns great places to live, work and study," he said

"And whilst in Chatham I had the pleasure of meeting the team behind the Cultural Development Fund project and the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership, which has exciting potential to be a game changer for the area."

He said each place he visited had its own "unique relationship with arts, culture and creativity".

This weekend's event, Reflect Gravesham will consist of 'sound, light, music and art', exploring the connection between 'coastal living and wellbeing'.

Tickets are free but will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

The tenth anniversary of the acquisition of the ship following its retirement from service will take place on 11-13 December.

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

Read more: All the latests news from Dartford


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