Additional reporting by Marijke Hall
A project has been launched to convert a 130-year-old barge into a multi-purpose community space.
Ramsgate Arts Barge CIC has announced a crowdfunder campaign to repair, renovate and refurbish the 51-metre Dutch barge called Vriendschap, meaning friendship.
The man at the helm of the project, Kevin O'Connor, wants local people to know that this will be more than just a performance and arts space.
The 36-year-old said: "This project is not really about a boat, it's a project of hope. It's about bringing everyone together during a really challenging time and trying to do something incredible.
"The project will create jobs, it'll drive people into the area, and all the profits of the project will go back into the community as well, so everybody wins."
Due to the plans being in the early stages of development, it is currently unclear how many jobs could be created with the launch of the space.
More than 100 volunteers have already signed up to be part of this mammoth renovation task, including builders and carpenters from the local community.
Local artists will also be involved in painting the barge, leaving their colourful mark throughout the vessel.
The group took legal ownership of the barge in August and the project and permanent mooring in the Ramsgate marina has won the approval of Thanet District Council.
Now, Kevin and his team are trying to raise £97,472 through a crowdfunder to pay for essential works, repairs, materials and inspections, as well as overheads and an in-depth study ahead of its renovation.
As of Wednesday, October 21, more than £5,000 had been pledged to the campaign.
Part of Kevin's vision for the ambitious project is to be able to offer something back to the children and communities of Thanet.
He said: "We want to provide free access to the arts for all children across Thanet, and that's obviously really important with the Thanet district being one of the highest-ranking deprived local authorities in Kent."
They hope to offer events and workshops as part of the free access, which is yet to be fully finalised.
The project lead added: "I just want people to realise they're not investing in a boat, they're investing in hope - and I think that's something that's worth investing in."
Kevin is hoping the community space will be ready to open in September, in time for the 200th anniversary of status as the UK’s sole Royal harbour.
"I just want people to realise they're not investing in a boat, they're investing in hope..."
If the project comes to life, the team says the events space will offer a calendar of arts events including visual arts, exhibitions, comedy, theatre, installations, acoustic music, cabaret, film screenings and much more.
Ramsgate Arts Primary has got involved in the initiative, with children filmed by the barge team as part of its profiling resources.
The youngsters are also working on a logo for the project as part of a competition open to schools.
Head of school Nick Budge said: "This is a fabulously creative project that is set in our town’s internationally-famous harbour, and RAPS is keen to support any idea that expands the creative arts in our community.
"This is an exciting idea. The arts barge crew gave an informative presentation to our pupils about the history of the barge and explained what it will be used for and how people can take part.
"Pupils in Year 5 and Year 6 were also filmed in the school hall as part of the crowdfunding promotional video that will be used to promote the project.
"Our continued involvement will be helping to design the logo, and also embarking on an art project where the whole school will be involved in creating decorative portholes that will adorn the barge during its renovation.
"Our long term vision is to form a learning partnership with the Arts Barge and become an integral part of the proposed educational programme."